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Full text of "The life and letters of Frederic Shields"

THE LIFE AND LETTERS 



OF 





1835-1911 




THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF 
FREDERIC SHIELDS 



THE LIFE 
AND LETTERS OF 

FREDERIC SHIELDS 



EDITED BY 

ERNESTINE MILLS 



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON 
NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA 

1912 . l^ 

Q 3 ' ^ 

All rights reserved > *\s I 



PREFACE 



MY thanks are due to those who have kindly allowed me 
to use letters over which they had control Mrs. G. F. 
Watts, Miss Rose Kingsley, Mrs. Hueffer, Miss Thomson, 
Miss M'Laren, Mr. William Rossetti, Mr. Mackenzie Bell, 
Mr. A. Wedderburn, Mr. Hall Caine, Mr. Cyril Gurney, Dr. 
Paton, Mr. Charles Rowley, Mr. Arthur Hughes, and 
others. 

I have also to thank Mr. Hyslop Bell, Sir William 
Houldsworth, Mr. J. Parkinson, Mr. Rowley, Mr. J. Simpson, 
and Miss Thomson, for permission to reproduce pictures 
in their possession, also the Manchester City Art Gallery, 
and Messrs. Bradbury & Agnew for permission to use one 
of the drawings which appeared in Punch, for which, 
however, I have substituted the first pen and ink sketch. 

Mr. C. Smyth very kindly sent me particulars as to 
the birthplace of Frederic Shields, and Mr. T. W. Hanson 
collected interesting reminiscences of the artist's life at 
Halifax in 1859. 

ERNESTINE MILLS. 

1912. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

Parentage and birth Hartlepool The Spanish wars St. Clement 
Danes Charity Schools The Mechanics Institute Maclure and 
Macdonald Newton-le-Willows Colouring posters Worsley 
Hall and the Earl of Ellesmere Death of father Starvation 
Baxter's oil prints Bradshaw & Blacklock's Housekeeping 
Mother's death 1 



CHAPTER II 

Trade lithography Edwin and Horace Stott Bros., Halifax 
First book illustrations ' ' A Rachde Felley " Ghost for the 
landscape painter First water-colours Sam Bough's commis- 
sion Drawing for wood engraving Manchester Art Treasures 32 



CHAPTER III 

First sketching expedition More water-colours W. J. Linton's 
offer " Whistle and Answer " Ragged School teaching Ill- 
ness and death of Edwin . 46 



CHAPTER IV 

Russell Street, Hulme Picture hung at the Royal Institution Illus- 
trated London News The Pilgrim's Progress Charles Kingsley's 
advice Poverty Death of Horace "Vanity Fair" Ruskin's 
praise Rowbotham the picture dealer 58 



CHAPTER V 

Return to Manchester Sketching in Cumberland Designs for 
Defoe's Plague Visit to London William Hunt sale First 

meeting with Rossetti Madox Brown Butterworth and his 

vil 



viii LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 



landscapes Rossetti's first letter Description of " Vanity Fair " 
Ruskin again Charles Keene Finding Professor Scott, his 
father's cou.in ... 77 



CHAPTER VI 

Visiting the sick Sketching Rossetti's " Hesterna Rosa 1 ' Offer 
from William Morris & Co. Dr. Alexander M'Laren The Snow 
Picture Farewells Elected to the Old Water-Colour Society 
Winnington Hall London again Illustrated London News 
Ruskin at Denmark Hill C. H. Bennett Swinburne Simeon 
Solomon Sam Bough's letter The " Nativity " design Street 
music 95 



CHAPTER VII 

Porlock revisited Return to London The Old Water-Colour Society 
James Holland's generosity Bands, organs, nerves Sandgate 
Boulogne Military pictures Chelsea C. H. Bennett's death 
Ruskin's help Manchester again The old house at Cornbrook 
Park Rossetti's letters Madox Brown and the condemned 
Fenians Warwick Brookes . . 108 



CHAPTER VIII 

M'Lachlan the photographer Arthur Hughes Madox Brown's 
advice Chloral Illness Winnington Ruskin's generous offer 
M'Connell's invitation Rossetti's method of chalk drawing . 121 



CHAPTER IX 

Letters to the Press Madox Brown and Rossetti Agnew and Ros- 
setti's " blessed rhyme " " Knott Mill Fair " reproduced in the 
Graphic Matilda Booth Visit to Scotland Experiments in 
oils Rossetti on Craven and Eelmscott The Heywood Prize . 136 



CHAPTER X 

Ordsall Old Hall Hermit life Rossetti's illness Crisis at Winning- 
ton Holding and Davis Modern improvements threaten In- 
somnia M'Lachlan again The young model The amazing 
marriage Off to Blackpool 154 



CONTENTS ix 



CHAPTER XI 

PAGE 

Ordsall Hall threatened Letter to Ruskin Sketching Queen Vic- 
toria's drawing-room Death of Oliver Madox Brown The Royal 
jig-saw puzzle Shields' Exhibition and farewell dinner . .167 



CHAPTER XII 

At Madox Brown's Bride at boarding-school To Italy with Charles 

Rowley Letters from Italy 185 



CHAPTER XIII 

House-hunting The proposed decorations for Manchester Town 
Hall English or foreign artists ? Shields' letter to the Council 
The Photographic Company Rossetti reproductions Lodge 
Place, St. John's Wood Commission for windows for Coodham 
Chapel . 198 



The Duke of Westminster's Chapel at Eaton Hall Rossetti and 
James Smetham Madox Brown begins work at Manchester 
Rossetti's " Launcelot and Guinevere " . . 225 



CHAPTER XV 

Mrs. Cowper- Temple Painting in Rossetti's studio Leyland's Bot- 
ticellis " Priscilla and Aquila " Christina Rossetti and the 
fairies Letters to Mrs. Kingsley Gilchrist's Life of Blake 
Shields resigns the Town Hall commission 240 



CHAPTER XVI 

Notes on Blake's Designs Article in the Manchester Quarterly 
Drawing of Blake's room Rossetti's sonnet Aberdeen Sir 
Noel Paton Rossetti's illness His strange idea Shields visits 
the theatre Letter from Christina Rossetti " The Scapegoat " 
At Birchington Rossetti's death 253 



x LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

CHAPTER XVII 

PAGE 

Lady Mount-Temple and Mrs. Russell-Gurney A visit to Babbacombe 
G. F. Watts The Kossetti memorial windows The vicar's ob- 
jections With Lord and Lady Mount-Temple at Broadlands 
Mosaics at Eaton Hall Windows at Cheltenham College 
M'Lachlan's lawsuit Sir Noel Baton's letters Sir John Gilbert 
St. Luke's, Camberwell Memorial to Gordon Highlanders 
Mosaic workers in Paris ^ ....... . 278 

CHAPTER XVIII 

Mrs. Russell-Gurney's dream Search for a site The disused mor- 
tuary chapel The Jubilee windows at St. Ann's, Manchester 
Window at Mereworth Church, Kent To Northern Italy At 
Pietra Santa Letters from Italy Mrs. Gurney's letters De- 
signing the Chapel of the Ascension The Madox Brown testi- 
monial Correspondence with G. F. Watts Address to Art 
Students " Knott Mill Fair " Holman Hunt's interesting ex- 
periences Death of Madox Brown 294 

CHAPTER XIX 

The chapel built Mrs. Russell-Gurney's enthusiasm Death of 
Christina Rossetti Sir Noel Paton's letter The opening of the 
chapel Death of Mrs. Gurney The new studio at Wimbledon 
Letters from Lady Mount-Temple, Dr. Alexander M'Laren, 
G. F. Watts, Hall Caine The Chancery suit Illness ' . ' . 324 

CHAPTER XX 

Exhibition at the Manchester City Art Gallery Porlock revisited 
Correspondence with Charles Rowley Death of Dr. M'Laren 
and Holman Hunt The chapel finished . . .,,. t .. . . 342 

CHAPTER XXI 

Frederic Shields' will Personal recollections . . 349 



INDEX .361 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



FREDERIC JAMES SHIELDS, 1903 (Photogravure) Frontispiece 
From a 'photograph by Elliot & Fry 

FACING PAGE 

CROW TREE INN, NEWTON- LE- WILLOWS, 1848 . . . 14 
Pen and ink. Drawn at the age of 15 

SKETCH OP AN OLD MAN'S HEAD . . . ., . . 22 
Drawn on brown paper. From a sketch book, about 1850 

STREET SKETCH, MANCHESTER . , ,, . . . .30 
From a sketch book, about 1857 

FOUR WOODCUTS FROM " A RACHDE FELLEY'S VISIT " . 40 
First book illustrations, published in 1856 

BOBBER AND KIBS . . . . . : - ; .- . 42 

Water-colour. First exhibited picture, 1856 

EARLY PORTRAIT STUDY . . " '. ... . 46 
From a sketch book, about 1856 

WHISTLE AND ANSWER . . Iu " ..... 50 
Water-colour, 1857. By permission of J. Parkinson, Esq. 

THE BEEHIVE MAKER . . . . . .58 

Water-colour. Hampshire, 1858 

STUDY FOR FIGURE IN " SLOTH, SIMPLE, AND PRESUMPTION " 64 
Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. "Pilgrim's Progress," 
1860 

THE HILL OF CAUTION . . . . 

From study now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. "Pilgrim's 

Progress," 1861 ( QQ 

CHRISTIAN AT THE CROSS , 

From woodcut. " Pilgrim's Progress," 1861 

xi 



xii LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

PACING PAOB 

THE ROBBER MONK 68 

Drawn on wood. I'ublished in " Once a Week." Sept. 1861 

VANITY FAIR . . .70 

From the Drawing on wood (before engraving), 1861 

Six ORIGINAL DESIGNS for Defoe's " Plague of London "- 
Published 1 863. By permission of the Corporation of Manchester. 
Now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 

\. THE DECISION OF FAITH. The Saddler of White- 
chapel reading the lists of mortality . . 76 

2. SOLOMON EAGLE . . . . .78 

3. THE DEATH OP THE FIRST-BORN ... 80 

4. THE PLAGUE PIT .... 82 

5. THE ESCAPE OF AN IMPRISONED FAMILY . . 88 

6. THE END OF A REFUGEE . . 90 

THE NATIVITY (1865) . . . A . ... 106 

ONE OF OUR BREAD WATCHERS . . . . .,110 

Water-colour, 1866. By permission of the Corporation of Man- 
chester 

THE BUGLER . .... ., . ,-i . 114 

Water-colour, 1866. By permission of Sir William Houldsworth, 
Bart. 

ILLUSTRATION FOR " PUNCH" . . . v . , .150 
Original sketch, 1870 ; published 1873. By permission of Messrs. 
Bradbury, Agnew <fe Co., Ltd. 

A WINNINGTON GIRL . . . . . . .156 

Water-colour. About 1873 

THE ARTIST'S WIFE. .164 

Water-colour. Painted just after their marriage in 1874 

LOVE AND TIME (1877) . . . . . . . 210 

Design for a Golden Wedding. By permission of Charles Rowley, 
E,q. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xiii 

FACING PAGE 
EZEKIEL . . . : 'V . ' *'; : ' 

Design for the Duke of Westminster's Chapel 

ST. JAMES THE LESS V ' ; ". a ." . . . . I 230 

Design for the Duke of Westminster's Chapel at Eaton Hall, 
1879-1880. From photographs by the Autotype Fine Art 
Co. , Ltd. 

WILLIAM BLAKE'S ROOM, 3 FOUNTAIN COURT, STRAND 

(1880) . .* ' .256 

From the original sketch. By permission of Dr. Greville MacDonald 

LAZARUS . . . , . 262 

Oil. Painted in Bossetti's Studio, 1880 ; now in the Chapel of the 
Ascension, Bayswater 

THE GUARDIAN ANGEL . . ... . . 266 

Design for one of a series of Memorial Windows. From a 
photograph by the Autotype Fine Art Co. , Lid. 

THE LADY WITH THE JASMINE . . . . .278 

Water-colour ; nearly life-size. About 1888 

X 

SKETCH OF ROSSETTI'S ROOM AT CHEYNE WALK . . 291 
Drawn from memory by Sir John Gilbert, R.A. 

LOVE . . . * . . v ... . .,_ 300 
In the Chapel of the Ascension, Bayswaler 

DESIGNS ABOVE GALLERY, WEST WALL OF THE CHAPEL 

OF THE ASCENSION 306 

KNOTT MILL FAIR . .-? -. . . . ; ,\. . . 322 
Water-colour, 1869. Oil replica, 1893 

THE DESPISED MANNA . . . ' . . ' . . . 326 
From the Frieze in the Chapel of the Ascension, Bayswater 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD "=^ . . ...... :i _\ . , . ' . 334 

Wall painting in the Chapel of the Ascension (Ante-Chapel), 
Bayswater 



xiv LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

FACING PAOB 

MAN REPELS THE APPEAL OF CONSCIENCE . . t , 344 
In the Chapel of the Ascension, Bayswater, 1910 

MAN HEARKENS TO THE APPEAL OF CONSCIENCE . . 346 
In the Ante-Chapel, Chapel of the Ascension, Bayswater, 1910 

THE CHAPEL OF THE ASCENSION, BAYSWATER (Interior) . 348 

FORTY-FIVE MINUTES' SKETCH 352 

Life-size water-colour head. About 1887. By permission of 
J. Hyslop Bell, Esq. 



THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF 
FREDERIC SHIELDS 



CHAPTER I 

Parentage and birth Hartlepool The Spanish wars St. Clement 
Danes Charity Schools The Mechanics Institute Maclure and 
Macdonald Newton-le-Willows Colouring posters Worsley Hall 
and the Earl of Ellesmere Death of father Starvation Baxter's 
oil prints Bradshaw and Blacklock's Housekeeping Mother's 
death. 

"OFT so it is that long after a man's death some scribe, 
hunting after new subject matter, unearths a nigh for- 
gotten existence, and for lack of certain data and facts, 
produces, spite of all conscientious pains to revive a true 
image, only a travesty either on the heroic or contempt- 
ible side. Many are such biographies, presenting no 
credible glimpse of the once living personality, mere 
skins, stuffed with the writers' chaff in lieu of their sub- 
jects' personality, the marvellous triune being of body, 
mind, and spirit ' For who knoweth the things of a man, 
save the spirit of man which is in him ? ' And even so, 
how much may not be publicly told, even by the most 
candid nature ? How many follies and errors must lie 
covered ? These considerations weigh to induce me to set 
down some orderly relation of my years, which I may 
fitly head with the words of the prophet Jeremiah ' It is 
good that a man bear the yoke in his youth.' " 



2 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

With these words, a few weeks before his death, 
Frederic Shields began the story of his life, having 
collected together many scattered sheets of reminiscences 
written at different times for various purposes, innumer- 
able letters, and a series of diaries extending over a period 
of more than sixty years. It seems fitting that one 
to whom he entrusted this varied collection, should 
endeavour to complete the task, for which there is 
certainly no lack of facts or data. Whether the facts 
will be only those which Frederic Shields would have 
wished to record, or how far the view given of that vivid 
personality will resemble that which he himself would 
have shown to the world, I cannot tell. But so far as 
is possible, he shall speak for himself, whether in the 
universal language, of which he was one of the greatest 
modern interpreters, or the forcible English in which, 
day by day, he recorded his life, from the time when, 
at the age of fourteen, he opened the shutters of his 
mother's tiny shop and spent his starved and strenuous 
boyhood in pursuit of his ideal. 

His grandfather, James Shields, was a sergeant in the 
Dumfriesshire Light Dragoons, but almost the only fact 
recorded about him seems to be that in the reduction 
of the regiment in 1796 he was discharged. He died, 
leaving two sons, John and James, in the care of their 
grandparents, a Mr. and Mrs. Scott, who lived in the 
parish of Cardross in Perthshire, on a small freehold 
property of their own. The two boys early left their 
grandparents. James emigrated to America; John, the 
father of Frederic Shields, seems to have had a somewhat 
adventurous youth. He was a bookbinder by trade, 
and married in 1830, at the age of twenty-two, at the 
Parish Church, Heton - le - Hole, Georgiana Storey, a 
farmer's daughter and a native of Alnwick. 

Two children, who both died in infancy, were born in 



HARTLEPOOL 3 

the following years, and on March 14th, 1833, Frederic 
James Shields was born at Hartlepool. Pigot's Directory 
of Northern Counties for 1834 records : 

HARTLEPOOL 

Bookseller, Binder, Stationer, and Printer : 

Shields, John Southgate. 
Libraries, Circulating : 

Shields, John Southgate. 
Straw Hat Maker: 

Shields, Mrs. Southgate. 

The house in which Frederic Shields was born has 
been identified as a printer's shop in High Street. From 
a printer's shop it became the General Jackson Hotel, 
which was not long ago pulled down to make room for a 
new fish quay. 

What strange combination of circumstances can have 
led to his father's next experiment in life we cannot say, 
but in 1835, when the British Government, by the repeal 
of the Foreign Enlistment Act, sanctioned the landing 
of ten thousand men from Great Britain, in aid of Queen 
Isabella of Spain against Don Miguel, John Shields left 
his bookbinding, his circulating library, his wife and his 
little son, and enlisted in the Scottish contingent under 
General Shaw. Many recruits from all parts of Scotland 
joined them, and they embarked at Greenwich on 19th 
August 1835, arriving in Spain on the 31st of the same 
month. 

A much worn and tattered document, written by John 
Shields, seems to recount his many grievances during his 
time of military service. After some preliminaries, it 
runs as follows : " It will digress too much to detail the 
six general engagements, besides skirmishes, which we 
were in, also the hardships and privations that we endured 
without a murmur, until the period arrived that entitled 



4 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

us to claim our discharge. As the expiration of our 
engagement drew nigh, and as little prospect of the war 
being near a termination, as when we first entered the 
service, we thought it proper to state, in the beginning 
of the month of September 1836, that we only enlisted 
for one year and therefore were entitled to claim our 
discharge, and intimated the same to Colonel Godfrey. 
On the 18th, Colonel Godfrey called us on to the parade, 
said there was a Board of Officers to sit in the convent 
in a few minutes, and that any of us who could prove 
by document or take an affidavit that he only engaged 
for one year, that he had instructions from Lieut.-General 
Evans to grant our discharge. Two hundred of us went 
before the Board and legally claimed our discharge, 
we were ordered to bring our arms, accoutrements, &c., 
and put them in Store. 

" On the 19th, those who had been before the Board the 
day previous were marched into Santander and quartered 
there, and to our surprise were kept as prisoners, part of 
the 9th Regiment doing duty over us. Here every means 
was tried to induce us to volunteer for twelve months 
more, and in many cases they succeeded, for a Spanish 
prison at best is more loathsome than any other ; and in 
this case our rations were curtailed. Our rations, when 
doing duty, were one and a half pounds of bread, one 
pound beef, and one pint wine per diem. By General 
Evans' orders the wine was stopped ; but in lieu thereof 
we should have a penny a day, but we did not receive it. 
When we had remained here for six days we were marched 
back to the Convent de Corbon, and were made to know 
what we should have to endure if we did not enlist for 
twelve months more. The English soldiers who did duty 
over us were removed, and were replaced by Spaniards, 
with whom, although fighting in the same cause, we were 
not on friendly terms ; and to increase the breach they were 



A SPANISH PRISON 5 

told that we were mutineers, and if we attempted to pass 
our prescribed limits to run us through or shoot us, which- 
ever might be most convenient. It was not long before 
the hospital at Santander was supplied with six patients, 
who had been wantonly wounded by the Spaniards for no 
real cause. Thus was English blood spilt and English 
subjects maltreated to gratify the mere jealous passion of 
a Spanish country. The officers in charge of us were 
frequently changed, and they were mostly men of harsh 
and cruel dispositions ; there was one in particular, I do 
not know by what orders, but he did everything in his 
power to make us more miserable, using the most petty 
excuse for punishing and keeping our rations from us. 
On one occasion he punished some men for disobeying an 
order, which order was not read to us until we were on the 
ground, where the poor fellows suffered the horrid torture of 
the cat's tail. Without straw, or even a shirt to our backs ; 
without covering, the bare floor was our bed. No oppor- 
tunities for cleanliness were permitted ; soon we were 
overrun with vermin and became loathsome in our sight. 
When things were thus, we were visited by a medical 
officer, who seemed to commiserate us, and shortly after 
we received orders that we should embark on the 8th of 
December 1836, and in the most wretched state we were 
landed in England." Here the torn and faded document 
becomes indecipherable, save for the words : " This is all 
the return I have yet received for a year's hard servitude 
in a foreign land, having exposed myself to danger and 
death. Whether British subjects who left their homes 
with the approbation of . . ." The rest is missing. It 
appears to be an appeal to those in authority for arrears 
of pay. 

John Shields was twenty-eight years of age when he 
returned from the Spanish war in 1836. What reception 
he met with from his wife, his son Frederic, then aged 



6 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

three years, and a baby daughter, born a few months after 
his departure, is not recorded ; nor whether his poor wife, 
left alone with her straw hat making and her two babies, 
had not perhaps silently endured as much pain and priva- 
tion as the volunteer who so gallantly left them to enter 
the service of Isabella of Spain. We do not know how 
the next few years were passed ; but in July 1839 we find 
mention of the birth of another son, Edwin, and the family 
is then settled in the parish of St. Clement Danes, London. 
John Shields was a man of strong artistic instincts, and in 
his youth greatly desired to be an engraver ; but his father, 
the Dumfriesshire sergeant, sternly refused to allow this, 
for two engravers had been hanged in Edinburgh for forg- 
ing banknotes, and he was determined that his son should 
run no risk of such temptation. The pent-up artistic 
instincts of John Shields found an outlet in later life in 
encouraging the genius of his son Frederic, who records 
the first lesson given to him at the age of six years : his 
father holding up to the window a print of T. P. Cooke, 
as William in Black -Eyed Susan, for the child to 
trace. 

In one of the sheets of reminiscences written by 
Frederic Shields he gives an account of his early home. 

" My mother had a store of stirring Northumbrian 
ballads (for she was born at Alnwick) that held my child- 
hood spell-bound. Fair-haired was she, with grey blue 
e'en, and features that must have been fine before the 
combined labour of dressmaking and the cares of a family 
ploughed her face. This business she carried on at 
39 Stanhope Street, Clare Market, the first place I have 
memory of. This street, largely swept away now, though 
till lately (haply still) the old house stood, was bounded 
at the south end by Clare Market, the busy food mart of 
the poor ; and at the other by the Irish colony of Drury 
Lane. A little eastward lay the great square of stately 



BYGONE LONDON 7 

Georgian mansions called Lincoln's Inn Fields, then so 
jealously guarded that once, flying my little kite there, I 
was hunted out of its precincts by the beadle, terrible in 
his cocked hat. For London was then a provincial city 
contrasted with its now palatial streets and roaring, hurry- 
ing, perilous motor traffic. There were no refreshment- 
rooms, save in back streets; grimy and ill-kept coffee- 
houses where you sat within wooden partitions, with forms 
on either side, with the bar and cooking arrangements at 
the end of the shop. A chop or steak, fried liver and 
bacon, was the varied menu. The streets were filled with 
quaint cries, as ' Fresh country milk, bring out your pretty 
jugs and your ugly mugs fresh from the cow-o ' ; or the 
seller of winkles : ' Winkety, winkety, wink, penny a pint, 
twopence a quart.' Rowlandson's virile presentations 
vividly recall my young environment, and shame it is 
to English connoisseurs that the sentimental rubbish of 
Wheatley is preferably sought after. A wedding in the 
vicinity was often signalised by the butchers marching in 
procession to the festal house, clanging their cleavers with 
marrow-bones. While still a schoolboy I was introduced 
to an elderly gentleman resident in Maiden Lane, and his 
interest in my work drew out the gift of sixpence. I 
never saw him again ; but in that narrow lane had Turner 
been born, whose wondrous gifts were to set my mind 
a-quiver with joy in them in after days. What if I had 
found a Mr. Munro in this early patron how different 
would have been my early youth ! 

" A cellar beneath my mother's shop was incongruously 
held by a blacksmith, and ever resonant with the strokes 
of his anvil. One or two apprentices helped her in the 
dressmaking, and the shop had a little triangular room 
behind, where meals were taken with my sister and two 
brothers I being the eldest. The first story was occu- 
pied by a woman in charge of the property, and the attic 



8 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

was used by her son, a costermonger, to store his fruit in. 
The second story my mother rented, and used as our 
Sunday room. It contained some shelves of solid litera- 
ture, my father's gathering, some in rich bindings adorned 
by his own tasteful tooling. 

" In the attic, where I crept at every chance, neglected 
and mouldering in a large portfolio, were treasures of fine 
engravings after Fuseli, Stothard, West, Copley, and others. 
Strangely was thus fed my early passion for the world of 
Art. Over these I secretly gloated to my heart's content, 
and here also, feeding my imagination, were a dozen or so 
of old swords, of various designs, which I would wield as I 
attacked imaginary giants and dragons, images conjured 
from my mother's legendary lore, and fired moreover by 
the heroics of the Iliad, which at the age of twelve had 
become my favourite book. The London police, or 
' peelers,' as they were nicknamed, then used big wooden 
rattles for alarm. When I was at school, some fellow 
schoolboys with myself clubbed our pence to buy a 
quantity of ' red fire,' such as is used for stage conflagra- 
tions, and one night lit this at the further end of the 
deep arched entrance of a factory in Stanhope Street. 
Soon the crimson glow made the factory seem on fire, 
while we retired to watch the effect of our ruse, gleefully 
hailing the peelers' rattles which successively alarmed the 
neighbourhood, and were followed by their maledictions 
on the hidden tricksters. A few houses from my mother's 
shop stood St. Clement Danes Charity School, where some 
sixty girls, attired in quaint caps and blue woollen dress, 
were educated at the cost of the parish, while to an uncer- 
tain number of boys clothing and education or education 
alone was given." 

To this school went Frederic Shields, leaving at the 
age of fourteen, though at the age of thirteen he attended 
an evening drawing-class at the Mechanics Institute, 



APPRENTICED 9 

Southampton Row, and gained a prize for a chalk 
drawing of a figure. 

Incessant use of the pencil had already won him the 
reputation of a draughtsman, and the habit of sketching 
any striking face or incident was begun in these childish 
days and continued to the end of his life. For several 
months after leaving school he worked daily in the 
Sculpture Galleries of the British Museum. It was already 
decided that he should follow some artistic profession, 
and he attended for a few months the School of Art at 
Somerset House, where a course of drawing of Greek out- 
line from the flat was, he considered, of inestimable value 
to him at that time. 

His mother had some slight acquaintance with Robert 
Carrick, who had then just forsaken lithography to apply 
himself to painting domestic subjects, and he kindly 
volunteered to give the boy a few lessons. So eager was 
the boy, that although Carrick lived so far away as 
Hampstead, young Frederic Shields was at his door 
before he had risen, and stood eagerly awaiting the draw- 
ing of the curtains of his room. But he did not gain 
anything from Carrick's lessons, save some facility in 
the use of Harding's conventional treatment of foliage. 
Through Carrick's influence, a place was offered to the 
boy as apprentice to a firm of lithographers, Maclure, 
Macdonald & Macgregor, the first three years to be with- 
out pay. He started work there on October 4th, 1847. 
To quote again from his own words : 

" The firm shortly removed to the very shadow of 
Wren's noble steeple, Bow Church. Proceeding thither 
one morning, I had to pass the Holborn end of Newgate 
Street, filled with a surging mob, the attraction a black 
scaffold and a woman hanging from it. Happily our lads 
will no more see such a sickening spectacle. Crossing 
Cheapside I was knocked down under the feet of a 'bus 



10 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

horse and dragged out by a lady, who, asking me pitifully 
if I was hurt, opened her purse and gave me a shilling 
dear soul, strange to me ever, but for that one tender 
touch. For practice I was set to copy upon lithographic 
stone one of the cattle groups by Sidney Cooper, and 
boy though I was, looking now at a print of this attempt 
that I have preserved, I question if I could have made a 
closer copy at any period of my work. One of Douglas 
Jerrold's sons sat at the same bench, often dilating upon 
the superiority of his father's powers to those of Charles 
Dickens, and with us a brother of Fred Skill, an able 
magazine illustrator, and worshipper of John Gilbert. 
Through Skill I was moved to buy the London Journal 
and Reynolds' Miscellany weekly, illustrated by Gilbert's 
facile invention, two most skilful wood engravers, Gorway 
and Hooper, rendering his swift, delicate drawing and his 
rich chiaroscuro with the most worshipful fidelity. No 
more, no more, shall we see the like ! Photography has 
swept this beautiful art of engraving on wood from the 
artist's line drawing away for ever, substituting its eye- 
scarring snapshot blocks, and wholly destroying what 
little sense of beauty dwelt in the public. Wonderful 
stories of Gilbert's swift dexterity were told how an 
editor would send up a block to him at Blackheath, 
stipulating the subject to be designed, the messenger, 
who had been instructed to wait, returning with it 
completed." 

During the year 1848 Frederic Shields began keeping 
a diary, and the habit was continued, with more or less 
regularity, to the end of his life. The first book has 
inscribed on the fly-leaf: "Frederick Shields, from his 
father, who hopes to see it when filled, a precious record." 
It certainly records a strenuous life for a boy of fifteen. 
The entry for January 1st is as follows, written in a beauti- 
fully neat hand: "Got up 7.30. Cleaned my boots and 



THE LITHOGRAPHER'S SHOP 11 

face. Then took down the shutters, got my breakfast, 
went to Mr. Maclure's, cleared up the shop, continued 
drawing the infant's head which I was busy at yesterday, 
finished it by 12 o'clock, began the tinting of some moun- 
tain scenery on stone. Mamma sent me my dinner, bread 
and roast veal ; continued tinting till 10 minutes past 
4, when I left work and got home by 20 minutes past 4. 
Read Rob Roy Macgregor from Chambers' Tracts. Got 
my tea at 20 minutes past 5, went to the Mechanics 
Institute. The porter was in the library. I returned 
British Costume and got out the Pictorial History of Old 
England. Went into the reading-room, read Punch, and 
articles from the People's Journal. Got home by nearly 

9 o'clock, went some errands for Mamma. Shut up the 
shutters, read part of Shakespeare's King Henry V. 
Had a slice of bread and butter and went to bed at 

10 o'clock." 

Again we read : 

" Wednesday, February I5th. Got up at half-past six. 
Cleaned my boots and face, took down the shutters, got 
breakfast and went to work by eight. Rubbed down seven 
inks, drew the winged lion until one. Had dinner 1 Ib. 
bread and a cup of coffee, came back and drew until 7, 
came home, got tea, read Coriolanus. Went to the 
Mechanics to hear Mr. Hatton's lecture on the music of 
Handel, Bach, and Mendelssohn. Came home, cleaned 
the knives and forks, brushed my boots and clothes, went 
to bed at 12. 

" Monday, 2Qth. Got up, cleaned my boots and face 
took down shutters, got breakfast, went to work by half- 
past eight, rubbed down five inks, drew the weary soldier 
till one, minded the office and ran errands till half-past 
three, went to dinner, bread and coffee, came back and 
drew till seven. Came home, got tea, read Coriolanus, 
went to the Mechanics for the Human Figure class, paid 



12 

for the quarter 6d., outlined two hands, came home at 
hall-past ten, cleaned knives and forks, went to bed 
at 12. 

" April 12th. Got up at half-past four. Cleaned my 
boots and face. Lit the tire, took down the shutters, con- 
tinued my design of Hamlet and the Ghost. Got break- 
fast, and went to work by eight. Drew a ram's head 
after Cooper, went to dinner, bread and coffee, drew till 
seven. Went home, got tea. Read Sir Walter Scott on 
Demonology and Witchcraft. Went to Mr. Cleverton's 
lecture on Chloroform. A guinea-pig inhaled it, and a 
young man had a tooth taken out under its influence. 
Came home at half-past ten, shut up, wrote my diary and 
went to bed at 11." 

These are not exceptional days ; the record continues 
for months in the same terrible style terrible, indeed, to 
think of a growing boy working at this pressure on a diet 
which mainly consisted of bread and coffee, for each day's 
dinner is chronicled and any variation from 1 Ib. bread 
and coffee is an exception. No wonder that pathetic 
references to broken chilblains and other ills are frequent. 
Surely few boys of fifteen have left such a record. At St. 
Clement Danes schools the boys were marched to church 
three times every Sunday, and the habit of writing the 
texts and a short resume of the sermon was kept up by 
Frederic Shields for many years. Each Sunday is thus 
chronicled at the end of this little book. 

All this year, the father, owing to slackness of trade in 
London, had been in the North working for various firms, 
sending what help he could to his family in Stanhope 
Street. We hear of his going without a tire that cold 
winter, sitting with his feet in a pail of shavings to keep 
them from freezing. Times were very bad, and in June 
he seems to have made up his mind that he could no 
longer afford to keep his eldest son at unpaid work. John 



NEWTON-LE-WILLOWS 13 

Shields had at that time found a post as foreman book- 
binder to the firm of MacCorquodale at Newton-le- Willows, 
and he sent for his son to join him, leaving the brave 
mother in London to support the three other children by 
her trade of dressmaking. 

There is no comment in the boy's diary, merely the 
fact recorded on June 5th, " left Mr. Maclure's." He 
seems to have then enjoyed a few days' relaxation if 
relaxation had been possible to him at this time. Satur- 
day, June 10th, records : " Got up at six. Cleaned my boots 
and face, took down shutters, made breakfast ready, read 
the Player's scene from Handet to Mamma. Went to the 
Vernon Gallery ; stayed there until half-past twelve. Got 
dinner, boiled bread and milk. Drew Mamma's portrait 
till three, drew the Italian figure till five, and Charles I. 
parting with his family till six. Went several errands, 
read No. 1 of Mr. Fox's lectures on the Political Morality 
of Shakespeare's plays, picked the gooseberries, cleaned 
the knives and forks, washed plates, put my drawings 
right, wrote to my father, shut up and went to 
bed." 

Here the small, neatly written paragraphs cease ; the 
diary was apparently written for the benefit of his absent 
father, and as the boy joined him at Newton shortly after 
this, he presumably felt there was no need to continue the 
record. 

At Newton young Frederic Shields took whatever odd 
tasks could be found for him, colouring many hundreds 
of life-sized figures on posters advertising the tailor 
Hyam's suits, wandering about the country near, sketch- 
ing all that interested him. Careful pen and ink draw- 
ings of old houses at Newton have been preserved, made 
on his rambles in these new surroundings, which were 
so different from the murky Clare Market streets. His 
father directed his reading from an extensive and peculiar 



14 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

selection of literature. In one month the following list of 
books read is given : 

Life of Theodore Hook. 

The Tile Burner and his Family. 

A Word on the English and Scotch Criminal Laws. 

Recent Revelations of the Microscope. 

Ben Jonson. 

Narrative of Frederick Douglas. 

Adventures in the Pacific. 

The Progress of British Art. 

Life of Blaise Pascal. 

Manners of the Chinese. 

Sketches from Flemish Life. 

Gobbet's Grammar, and 

A Visit to a Harem ! 

But the brave father evidently felt the hand of death 
upon him, and his anxiety was intense to find some per- 
manent situation for his beloved son. During his illness 
he seems to have written to his cousin, of whom he had 
lost sight since early boyhood, Dr. A. G. Scott, then of 
University College, and was deeply pained that no reply 
came. This arose from the loss of the letter, received just 
as Dr. Scott was removing from London to Manchester, 
a loss which Frederic Shields used to say " probably 
entailed years of misery to myself, for its object was 
to enlist the Doctor's interest in his boy, who he knew 
would soon be left desolate." At last the father found 
him a place at wages of five shillings a week with 
a Scotchman named Cowan, a mercantile lithographer 
in Manchester. Almost immediately the father's state 
became more acute, and he had to return to London 
alone, to seek admission to the Brompton Hospital. 
Frederic Shields wrote of this period of his life : 
" In a low quarter of the town, Cupid's Alley, I found 
a lodging at 2s. Qd. weekly, leaving 2s. 6d. for food and 



HARD TIMES 15 

clothing. I used to buy a bag of Indian meal for the 
week, and this served for all my meals, while my dress 
wore shabbier and my shoes wore out with little margin 
to amend them. Then Cowan failed, and I was without 
any opening and friendless in the great city. I wandered 
from public-house to public-house, offering for a penny 
to sketch the profile of any man there, but few were my 
paltry gains." One day he wandered to Worsley and 
sketched the hall and the church. He writes to his 
father : 

MANCHESTEB, August 2nd, 1849. 

MY DEAR FATHER, I received your kind letter on 
Tuesday. I have also to thank you for the Illustrated 
News you sent me. It is a splendid number ; the prize 
cattle, and the views of the cascade, and the Gap of 
Dunloe are worthy of any work. 

Often as I lie in bed I think of your thin body and 
face, and in my fancy see you beside me. Are you getting 
any stouter with your increase of strength ? I wish to 
God your cough was well, then you would soon recover. 
I hope to hear of your admission into the Hospital next 
letter. I intend to go down to Worsley in the course of 
two or three days with my drawing of the church. I 
hope that I may see the Earl or the Rector. I have got 
some jobs at ticket designing for a private printer named 
Bardsley, in Oldham Street, and several portraits, at 
which I have improved wonderfully. 

Regrets are useless now, father, but still I wish I 
could get apprenticed to the woodcutting, the lithog 
writing, or even the bookbinding. O, how I wish I 
could get to the painting under a good master. Tell 
me always how you are. I remain, your affectionate son, 

FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS.! 

Worsley Hall seems to have been a promising sketch- 
ing ground, as the next two or three letters relate. 

1 It is perhaps a point of interest to those possessing early drawings 
by Shields, that until about 1864, he signed his name " Frederick," sub- 
sequently he omitted the final letter. 



16 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

MANCHESTER, October 2nd, 1849. 

MY DEAR FATHER, I received your kind letter of the 
27th ult. ( but I thought I would not answer you until I 
had seen either the Earl or the Rector. I went yesterday 
to Worsley, and saw the Rector; he told me to make 
him another drawing of the church, in addition to the 
one I have already done. He gave me a shilling. At 
the lodge I found my endeavour to see the Earl would 
be fruitless, as the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, 
Lord Wilton, and several other of the nobility were dining 
with him that day. In a week I will go down again. 
father, you know not what pleasure it gives me to 
know that you are better; God grant that you may con- 
tinue to progress towards recovery and go forth from 
the Hospital with a thankful heart for God's mercy. I 
get 4s. to 6s. for portraits, according to the style they 
are done in. I thank you, father, for your kind considera- 
tion, but I have got a good pair of boots. 

I am sorry to tell you that I am about 12s. in debt, 
but by the efforts I am making I hope soon to be free. 
There is a young man named James Tait, a Scotchman, 
lodging here. He is a painter, and his father is in busi- 
ness for himself in the same line, in the small town of 
Gatehouse, in Kirkcudbright. He is out of work just now 
and thinks of returning to Scotland. He has offered to 
take me with him to Gatehouse and apprentice me to the 
painting and graining with his father, providing me with 
meat, lodgings, and clothes. Of wages ne can say nothing 
until he asks his father. I would wish you to weigh well 
this offer before vou return any positive answer. Adieu, 
dear father, for the present. Your affectionate son, 

FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 



MANCHESTER, November 18th, 1849. 

MY DEAR FATHER, It is the old prologue " I went to 
Worsley" again, but I am happy to be able to add that 
the performances on this occasion were of a very novel 
kind. Upon my arrival at the hall, I enquired for the 
steward, Mr. Rasbotham, and was informed that he had 
gone to his own house in the village. I immediately 



THE EARL'S STEWARD 17 

repaired thither. He was at dinner. The servant under- 
took to announce my name, and returned with the kind 
answer that I was to have something to eat and drink, 
and that he (Mr. Rasbotham) would see me afterwards. 
I had a capital dinner (at tea-time) of roast beef, boiled 
salary, bread, potatoes, &c. The servant then told me 
that Mr. Rasbotham was waiting for me. But before I 
proceed further, I must ask you if you remember the 
large sketch of Shakespeare which I did at Newton. Be 
that as it may, I have since made a large drawing in 
chalk of the same subject. This, together with a portrait 
and some smaller drawings, I took with me to show him. 
He took them into the dining-room to let the company 
see them, and asked me what would be the price of a 
copy of the Shakespeare. I scarce knew what to ask 
but at last I said ten shillings, which I did not consider 
too much, as there is four good days' work on it, besides 
materials. He said he would see about it. He then 
said that the Earl did not see how he could be of any 
assistance to me with regard to a situation, but he would 
consider the matter. In the meantime his lordship 
wishes me to do a drawing of the Church for him in 
pencil. Now for the grand climax, the last scene of all. 
Mr. Rasbotham put his hand into his pocket and asked 
if a trifle would be of any service to me, at the same 
time putting into my hand half a sovereign. I thanked 
him almost with tears in my eyes, so kindly and con- 
siderately was the action performed, took my leave and 
walked home praising God for His great goodness in 
having found me at least a temporary friend. You 
ask if my landlady trusts me. It will give you great 
pleasure, I know, when I tell you that for nearly a month, 
when I only brought a few shillings, she never grumbled. 
It is true, she is a little hasty at times, but she is good at 
heart, and I can put up with her. My dear father, you 
ask me to tell you all my wants. Believe me, my chief 
want, I might almost say my only one, is you, for I 
cannot speak in a letter as I would if you were beside me, 
for when I sit down to write, it chills the heat and 
fervour of what I could wish to say into an arctic coldness. 
I know well what must be your feelings concerning me, 

B 



18 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

you could swallow all, ah! and much more than all, 
that I could tell you, at least so I feel with regard to 
you. I remain, your affectionate son, 

FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 



The father, now in Brompton Hospital, is evidently 
worse, and soon to be discharged as incurable. 



MANCHESTER, November 27th, 1849. 

MY DEAR FATHER, I received your kind and affection- 
ate letter. I am grieved to hear that you have been 
worse again. Oh ! tell me whether you are better. It 
gives me the greatest pleasure to know that Dr. Roe 
is kind to you, God will reward him. 

I went to the Hall yesterday, the day appointed. I was 
shown in to Mr Rasbotham, whom I found seated at his 
desk writing. Upon my entrance he rose, and bade me 
good morning. I returned his salutation. We then 
proceeded to business. He seemed to like the view of the 
Church very well and took it in to show his lordship. 
He returned with the gracious information that his 
lordship was very well pleased with it, and that I was to 
execute two more views of the hall, to be sent down to 
the house in London, 10 Belgrave Square, where they 
intend proceeding on Friday. He then gave me 2 
for the view of the Church, and I consider that I was 
exceedingly well paid. I am glad that I left the Shake- 
speare with Mr. Rasbotham, this time he told me he 
should consider the ten shillings he gave me as an 
equivalent for it. I gratefully acceded. I have great 
pleasure in being able to send you an order for ten 
shillings payable at the Brompton Hospital. I send 
you a rough sketch which I took of John Bright, M.P. 
I remain, your affectionate son, 

FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 

I thank God that I am out of debt. 



WORSLEY HALL 19 

MANCHESTER, December 2nd, 1849. 

MY DEAR FATHER, I received your wished-for letter on 
Thursday morning. On that day I went to the Hall with 
a portrait for one of the servants. They were all very 
busy making preparations for the Earl's departure. I 
believe he is in London by this time. I have not yet 
taken the sketches of the Hall, for I did not like to be 
seen cutting and capering about the grounds adjacent to 
the Hall in search of a point of view while the family 
were at home, but I intend making them to-morrow. 
It will be cold work taking them, but that is not the 
worst of it. I shall have to turn the leafless, skeleton-like 
trees of winter, into flourishing summer plants heavy with 
foliage, a somewhat difficult task, but if I succeed in it, 
the more triumph. They shall be done on tinted drawing 
board. Oh ! father, if you had been at my side when I 
received the money, and been able to see as it were 
through a glass into my mind, you could not better have 
interpreted my feeling than you have in your last letter ; 
which I have read over and over again, until it has almost 
made me cry, teeming as it does with kindness and 
affection. But you say you cannot think of accepting the 
money ; believe me, father, you could not hurt my feelings 
more than by returning it. My only grief has been that 
I have never been able to send you anything before, 
and my present grief is that I am not able at present 
to send you more. Think you I can forget one who, 
with disinterested affection, sent me money so often, 
when he himself so badly needed it. I pray God I may 
never be forgetful and ungrateful, and do I not respect 
Gibson (whose portrait and life you were kind enough 
to send me) the more for that, in the words of his 
biographer, " in affluence at Rome he never forgot the 
duty of sharing his means with his parents in Liverpool." 
I have been enabled, too, to buy myself a new waistcoat, 
two pair of stockings, two cotton handkerchiefs, and a 
pair of woollen gloves, so that you will perceive that I am 
not in immediate want for anything. 

You say well ! How often have I sighed, vainly sighed, 
even as you now sigh, for a repetition of the happy 
evenings we spent at Newton. It is only when in adver- 



20 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

sity that we know the value of health and prosperity. 
Write soon. I remain, your affectionate son, 

FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 

MANCHESTER, December 16tk, 1849. 

MY DEAR FATHER, I received your kind letter, return- 
ing the money order, this morning. I have been induced 
to accept the money, the more especially as you say 
you are not in want of anything, and yet (forgive me 
for it) I scarce know whether to believe you or not, 
I know so well your self-denying love. You say you 
have no tire, for the love of God try to get some. Will 
the landlady not let you sit at hers ? how do you spend 
your time, nave you any books ? I would have liked 
to have sent the sketch of the Hall to you with this 
letter, but that I am not finished with it yet, it would 
give you an idea of the place. It is a very elaborate 
building in the Elizabethan style. 

My dear father, do not grieve about me. Here I am 
not as I should like to be, but thank God I am not so bad 
as your fears lead you to suppose. On Monday I got six 
shillings for a portrait of a child, on Tuesday, sixpence 
and my tea for a sketch of a head, and to-day I shall 
get two shillings and my dinner and tea for another 
portrait, a small one, and last night another sixpence 
for an hour's tuition in drawing. So that I am not so 
badly off as you think, and I beg of you, dear father, 
not to make yourself ill concerning me. If you were well 
and by my side, I could endure ten times tne misfortune 
I am now subject to with pleasure. Your affectionate 
son, FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 

He was at this time sixteen years of age. 

For the two drawings the Earl of Ellesmere paid the 
boy the to him fabulous sum of five pounds, and he 
also drew the portraits of several of the servants at the 
Hall for five shillings a head. But this could not last, 
and no one seems to have heeded or inquired what 
prospects the boy had. So he wandered back to Man- 



A STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE 21 

Chester, and suffered every misery of cold, loneliness, 
and starvation. His father, discharged from Brompton 
Hospital, died, having succeeded in obtaining, a few 
weeks before his death, a situation for his son at Brad- 
shaw & Blacklock's, at a salary of seven shillings a 
week. 

Frederic Shields shall tell the story of this period 
in his own words. 

"Here, in the extremest drudgery of commercial 
lithography, I endured daily torture of mind, suffering 
also from a disease, brought on by semi-starvation, which 
sapped my strength for four years, and made me of sad 
aspect. A broad black ribbon round my face supported 
the lint applied to a running ulcer which plagued me 
for many months. The kindness of Dr. Whitehead 
eventually cured me of this affliction, which had made 
me a shamed and marked youth wherever I went. 
Months passed in this new circle of misery and then I 
was dismissed for inability to execute, with sufficient 
nicety, repetitions of bobbin tickets ; some eighty on one 
cold stone to be neatly painted with the brush for 
printing from. Conceive the dull round of agony ; 
suffering as of the victim of Inquisition under the slow 
drops of water falling on his chest. In vain I strove 
to satisfy the foreman, for my heart loathed the task, 
so again I was without means of breadwinning. 

" Mr. Blacklock, discovering after my dismissal that I 
had talents unexercised in his service, asked me to make 
two large drawings of the exterior and interior of McCorquo- 
dale's works at Newton. The interior entailed much in- 
tricate drawing of machinery, of the bookbinding and type- 
setting departments with the men at their employment. 
During the last three days of this work I had not a fragment 
of food, and worked in hope of the paltry payment I received 
from that wealthy business man seven shillings. I re- 



22 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

member tramping to Liverpool, thirty-two miles by road, 
with a few pence in my pocket, and back without any, in 
search of work. On my way a tramp begged from me : 
1 Master, I'm clemming.' I could but answer, ' So am I.' 
Returning, I reached Bootle (midway to Manchester) foot- 
sore and penniless. I looked at a wheatfield, stacked with 
new-cut sheaves, and thought to sleep among them ; when 
a band of Irish reapers stopped me, demanding with half 
threatening humour, ' Are you a Ribbandman or an 
Orangeman ? ' I knew not the distinction, and could only 
reply that I was a poor lad, hungry, weary, and shelter- 
less. ' Bedad, then, come along with us and get a plate 
of porridge into ye.' They took me to a large farmhouse 
kitchen, fed me as they had proposed, and then took me 
into the great raftered room above, spread with many 
mattresses on the floor, where, sandwiched between two 
strong harvestmen, I slept off my exhaustion ; and after a 
morning plate of porridge and many hearty expressions 
of goodwill from my benefactors, I resumed my tramp to 
Manchester. My heart warms to the poor Irish from that 
day, and I have known many worthy of deep esteem. 
But still I had no employment. What to do ? I thought 
of my father's friends at the Newton works poor but 
warm-hearted ; they might show me kindness. There, at 
the tariff of seven shillings a head, they found me physiog- 
nomies enough to keep my pencil busy for months. They 
were drawn on tinted paper, life-size, in black and white 
chalk with a little red. Excellent practice and joy deli- 
rious after the grinding bondage of bobbin tickets, daily to 
strive to catch something of the grace or strength of 
Nature's most exalted work. But the mine of the little 
town grew exhausted, and at this juncture old Bradshaw, 
the Quaker partner in the Railway Guide printing firm, 
sent for me and said, ' Dost thou think thyself able to 
design for Baxter's patent Oil Painting Process ? ' Mod- 




SKETCH OF AN OLD MAN'S HEAD 
About 1850 



BAXTER'S OIL PRINTS 23 

estly but confidently I replied, ' Yes.' ' What wages wilt 
thou require ? ' Seven shillings a week had I received at 
bobbin tickets, and I dared to ask ten shillings a week for 
the coveted post of designer, and returned to my old shop 
in honour. The despised became a head, with a little 
room to himself where no defilement of bobbin tickets ever 
entered ; and I revelled in gleaners, and milkmaids, and 
rustic lovers, and a box of colours for the first time." 

Out of this scanty wage he saved enough to pay the 
evening class fees for three months at the Manchester 
School of Design. An anecdote shows how overmastering 
was his habit of sketching. One night the " Perspective " 
teacher was demonstrating on the blackboard, perched 
upon an unsteady erection of boxes. This suddenly col- 
lapsed, and the lecturer lay stretched insensible upon the 
platform. Most of the students rushed to his assistance ; 
but Frederic Shields, fascinated by the dramatic effect, 
remained in his seat carefully sketching the scene. 

The comparative prosperity of Bradshaw & Blacklock's 
did not last long, for this firm also failed, and the boy 
began to fear that he brought ill-luck to his employers. 
However, having gained something of a reputation as a 
designer, he obtained another situation with a firm named 
Dubois, at the substantial wage of 25s. a week, to design 
for what was known as the ticket trade tickets of various 
designs to be attached to textile fabrics. Some of these 
early drawings, which have been preserved, were shown at 
the Memorial Exhibition of Shields' work in London, 1911. 
At this time his mother's health was rapidly failing, the 
little sister had died, and the struggle to maintain the two 
younger children was daily becoming more acute. She 
seems to have made a desperate attempt to cure her illness 
by going for a few weeks to the Isle of Wight ; and some 
pathetic letters, preserved by her son, faded and dim with 
age, tell their own tragic tale. The first letter is written 



24 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

on a sheet of paper headed with a print of Carisbrook 
Castle. 

NEWPORT, July 25th, 1853. 

MY DEAR SON, I should have written to you sooner, 
but I have been very ill ever since I have been here, most 
of my time in bed. But this day I feel a little better, and 
may it please that great God, Who is the best Judge for us 
all, to spare me a few years longer for my poor boy's sake. 
I cannot keep my mind easy about the children and home. 
Only think, my Fred, how my home is left with a few 
girls who mind not my interest, and if it please God to 
spare thy mother to go back that place will kill me. 
What am I to do ? Oh God, direct me, for I am weak in 
myself. 

Freddy, this is the castle that Charles 1st was confined 
in before he was taken to execution ; and there is a well 
three hundred and fifty fathoms deep, it supplies all the 
town of Newport with water. You must write to me, and 
that soon, for I am very dull. Direct to me at Mr. Hans- 
ford, Castle View, Newport, Isle of Wight. I will feel 
disappointed if I do not hear from you in a day or two. 
Remember thy mother is ill and cannot bear anxiety. 
Take care of thy health. God bless you, my Fred. Your 
affectionate mother, G. SHIELDS. 

The " girls " referred to were those apprenticed to her 
to learn dressmaking. 

MANCHESTER, July Zltk, 1853. 

MY DEAR MOTHER, I wrote to you on Monday to 
London, for I was afraid you were worse and could not 
write. Oh, mother dear, I feel so anxious. You never 
wrote either to tell me if you were not coming to Man- 
chester, and I half fancied you meant to surprise me and 
come down without telling me ; and I looked at every 
female I passed as if I expected every one of them was 
you. It is indeed as you say, mother, if you go back to 
that smoky, confined little crio of a shop it will kill you ; 
now, mother dear, I have often talked to Georgiana about 
you coming down here. I do not know whether I ever 
mentioned it to you before. I told you in my last I had 



MOTHER AND BROTHERS 25 

taken a house, with a friend who was going to lodge 
with me. Well, it is what we call here a large house ; it 
contains five rooms, a kitchen, a yard, three cellars. Well, 
Scott, my fri nd, is not going to stop in Manchester ; and, 
of course, if you could come down with the children and 
stay here, there is room and to spare, I should say, for all 
of us. It is a very healthy part of the town. You might 
sell such furniture as you could easily replace here. I 
have said, I believe, for the best for us all. God order it 
so in His infinite wisdom. Write soon, I pray you, in 
order that I may know what you have determined on. 
The time and the hour demand decision. . . ." 

The rest of this letter is missing. In the mother's 
absence the two little ones at home seem to have done 
their best to alleviate her anxiety. Edwin, the elder, 
writes as follows : 

LONDON, Wednesday, July 20th, 1853. 

MY DEAR MAMMA, I received your letter this morning, 
and am sorry to hear that it was such a bad passage. You 
did not say whether you were sick or no. Tell me whether 
you think the place will do you good and whether it is a 
nice place. You say that the expense was great ; how was 
that ? Is the things dear there ? We are getting on quite 
well and are very happy. We shall be able to send you 
some money soon. Tell me how I am to send, if I am to 
go to the Money office and get the order ; please tell me 
where it is. On Monday Mr. Collins called and said he 
had got a place for me at Mr. Smith's in the Strand, a 
newspaper agent. I went to school, and he gave me a 
letter and told me to take it to Mr. Ellerman the overseer. 
I took it in the evening, but the overseer told me Mr. 
Smith was not in. I am to go in the morning at 11 ; but 
Mr. Spiller does not seem to like to let me stay away a 
morning to go there, and if I don't look after the place I 
shall offend Mr. Collins, so that I know not what to do. 
Pray write and tell me what I am to do. 

We have had three dresses in and a body, and a muslin 
one to repair. We have had the dress back: from Poppy's 
to have eight yards of lace in it. Will you tell us in your 



26 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

next letter what you charge Miss Broad for a barege dress, 
because Jane has got one to make on Tuesday. We have 
made the little frock for Burton's and they were very 
pleased with it. Rhoda works very nicely wnile you are 
away. Horace and I are very saving, and shall soon be 
able to pay debts, Jane says. Mrs. Parker don't get on so 
well as when you are at home. I hope that you will get 
well by God's mercy. I remain, your affectionate son, 

EDWIN SHIELDS. 

It surely speaks well for the instruction at St. Clement 
Danes Charity School, that the boy then aged about 
thirteen could write such a letter as this without any 
mistake in spelling, in a neat, boyish hand. He evidently 
had his eye on the business and the apprentices in his 
mother's absence, and the "very saving" ways of the 
little brothers give a sad insight to the privations they 
all suffered in those days, and their precocious knowledge 
of the difficulties of life. The mother wrote again to 
Frederic from Newport. 

"Now, my dear son, about my coming to Manchester, 
it requires some thought. First place, now shall we all 
live ii I am not able to work ? I might not be able to do 
so. The brokers give so little for what I might sell, it 
would be a mere nothing. If I could get a few pounds 
for the business it would pay my expenses down there. 
Horace is not done with his schooling, but we might get 
Edwin into something, and I might be better with the 
help of God. But I am very bad, dear Fred, I am afraid 
I shall not be able to the task of moving. You ask what 
the doctors say; one said it might turn to consumption, 
another says it is not. There is one thing I know myself, 
that this consuming fever is eating flesh and bones. I 
have lost all my strength. I am not so strong as a child, 
my bones are sore. I know not how to lie in bed, I turn 
and twist, seeking for rest and cannot find it night after 
night until daybreak. I have cramp in my hips and in 
my feet. My beloved son, I have only given you about 
the half of my ills I think I hear you say I have said 



HOUSEKEEPING 27 

enough, but you asked for it. I mean to wash my arms 
in the sea, it may put some little strength in them. If 
you think we could do, I think how happy I could be with 
my three sons, if it was the Almighty's Will. Oh, my son, 
pray for thy weak mother. I mean to try a place called 
Ryde, about seven miles from here, it is a small seaport. 
If I find I get better in a few days I will return home. 
Nothing in this world would give me more pleasure than 
to have you here. You would see mountains too high to 
climb. 

" May God protect you, my good boy, is your poor 
mother's prayer." 

The friend with whom Frederic Shields had taken the 
house was a young man named Eugene Montague Scott, 
whose acquaintance he had made at the School of Design. 
The son of a portrait painter, Scott was one of the first 
friends made by the lonely youth in Manchester. Shields 
was introduced by Scott to his sisters Emily, described 
as " a charming personality with long raven curls descend- 
ing in womanly winsomeness on either side her high brow," 
and Isabel, who had a rare gift for design remembered 
always as the first ladies who had ever received him on 
terms of friendship. They formed a little sketching circle, 
each member engaged to produce an original design once 
a month. When the family went to London, the son 
proposed staying in Manchester, and as, in contrast to 
Frederic Shields, young Scott was of a gay and flighty 
disposition, his parents doubtless thought that the in- 
fluence of a young man of such strict views might be 
good for their son. However, the arrangement fell 
through, and young Scott was eventually sent abroad by 
his parents. 

MANCHESTEB, 4th August 1853. 

MY DEAR MOTHER, I scarcely know with what to 
begin first, I have got so much to say. But about your 
illness, I am so glad to hear the doctor said it was not 



28 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

consumption yet, although it might turn to it ; that, with 
God's help, must be prevented. O ! what you must suffer 
with no friend or relation near you. . . . You ask, mother 
dear, how we should all live if you were not able to work. 
Since I have gone back to work, I have been getting 
31s. per week, and but that I was in debt through previous 
slackness and bad wages, I should have been able to do 
much. In about a month I shall be completely out of 
debt, and then 26s. is ^yours every week, God pleasing to 
keep me in work. With that I think we might manage, 
and we might get Edwin, I feel confident, into many 
things here. As to Horace, you could get him out of 
school whenever you please, I suppose. If you could get 
a few pounds for the business, it would be a great help ; 
you must try, I think it may be done. Would it be better 
to sell your things to a broker or to bring them down here 
by rail ? The rent of the house is 7s. per week, including 
taxes. Coals are only 6d. and 7d. per hundred here. 

I will take a walk over the house with you now, dear 
mother, by your permission. Cellar for coals, cellar for 
washing (of course that we would send out), with a boiler, 
and fireplace, and pipe water-tap. Back cellar with a 
shelf suspended from the ceiling to keep meat cool in hot 
weather ; both cellars 12 ft. by 12 ft. We then go 
upstairs and arrive on the Ground Floor, kitchen, with 
rainwater tap, slopstone, fireplace, and oven, and small 
safe. Back yard, 13 ft. by 7 ft., with back door to step 
out by. Back parlour, with drawers, cupboard, and fire- 
place. Front parlour, fireplace and cupboard, large plate- 
glass window, and inside shutters ; both parlours 13 ft. by 
10 ft. We then pass into the lobby (in which there is a 
row of seven pegs for clpthes) and upstairs. One small 
bedroom, one large bedroom with cupboard, large front 
room with cupboard and plate-glass windows. So now, 
dear mother, I have shown you our establishment, and 
you can tell me in your next what you think and whether 
it will suit you. ... I trust you will try to write to me 
by Monday, for I shall be very anxious. My love to my 
brothers. May God restore you to health I pray, through 
Jesus Christ, Amen. Your affectionate Son, 

FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 



FAMILY PROSPECTS 29 

A pathetic reply was written by the mother, in which 
she sadly inquires, " How shall I feel, dear son, to take thy 
wages, or how will you like to give them to me ? " Her 
son replies : 

"I would have written an immediate answer to your 
letter, but that I have been very busy at home and in the 
shop. You say ' how will you feel to take my wages.' I 
don't know, but I know you ought only to feel that I am 
your son and that it is my duty. For myself, I shall but 
feel thankful to God Who has placed it in my power to 
aid my mother. You asked in one of your letters how we 
should all live if you were not able to work. I think, dear 
mother, we should stand as good or better a chance of 
living down here in such a case, than in London. As 
regards selling the business, 15 is certainly very little for 
it, but I cannot help thinking that it would be better to 
take even less than that, if necessary, than to postpone your 
departure from that little smothering hole. You say the 
suspense and excitement make you worse, ah ! so it will ! 
Tell me in your next what you wish on your signboard, 
if you please, dear mother, I think we had better put 
' Mrs. G. Shields, dressmaker, from London,' and after 
that what you please. Heaven bless thee again, we shall 
soon behold each other face to face." 

His mother writes again to say that she has not told 
him that all the streets in London are having new drains 
connected with each house, and that for three months Stan- 
hope Street has been up thirty feet deep she finds that 
it is hopeless to attempt to sell the business under these 
circumstances, and agrees to come to Manchester at once. 

Frederic Shields had made a stipulation with his 
employers that when business pressure did not demand 
early attendance he should be free to arrive at work at 
any time not later than 11 A.M. Not that he had forsaken 
his habit of early rising, but that he might be free to 
sketch any incident or character that struck him in the 



30 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

streets on his way to the shop. He used in after years to 
say that the streets were his school of art, and that to this 
habit he owed much of his swiftness of perception and 
execution. His firm was situated very near to the 
Theatre Royal, and in the theatre also he made many 
sketches until he began to fear that attendance at the 
theatre would imperil his soul, a conviction which he 
retained, more or less, to the end of his days. Late in 
life he wrote : " The evil seed sown in me when a child a 
relative having thoughtlessly taken me to the pantomime 
in London grew into an overshadowing passion for the 
theatre. The good seed of my godly old schoolmaster was 
not altogether expelled by it, sometimes I experienced 
searching heart questionings on this matter which would 
not be silenced, and gradually so worked within me that, 
as a young man, I have sat in the Pit, seeing not, hearing 
not, save the stirring Spirit of God bringing me into con- 
demnation for refusing to yield up my darling pleasure, 
whilst I trembled with fear for disobedience. At last I 
yielded partially, making a compromise that I would 
cease regular attendance, and be present only on those 
occasions when Helen Faucit, that supremely gifted 
actress, came to Manchester. But the voice would not 
be silenced, and at last I utterly broke from the toils, and 
resolved to visit the theatre no more, no matter what 
temptation it held out. Then peace flowed into my soul. 
Few of this age will read this with any understanding, but 
I know this passion for theatrical entertainments was 
gradually eating away all spiritual desires, and that, 'If 
any man love the world, the love of the Father is not 
in him,' and that indulgence in it would have made 
me unfit for the labour God purposed for His servant 
eventually." 

Oddly enough, many years later, he showed his de- 
votion for his friend, Rossetti, who was very ill at the 




A STREET STUDY 
Manchester, about 1857 



MOTHER'S DEATH 31 

time, by going to hear Gilbert and Sullivan's comic 
opera, Patience, hearing it in misery and horror, no doubt, 
only that he might be able to relieve Rossetti's morbid 
fear that he was caricatured and held up to ridicule in the 
play. Probably no service ever asked of Frederic Shields 
by Rossetti cost him more suffering than did that evening's 
entertainment. 

To return to Clopton Street, Manchester, in 1853. His 
mother arrived in September with the two little boys, 
but after a few months of patient suffering she died. The 
diary for this year is missing, but some pencil notes on a 
faded sheet of paper record the fact of her death, ending 
pathetically, " her last dear words, ' remember me some- 
times.' " 



CHAPTER II 

Trade lithography Edwin and Horace Stott Bros., Halifax First book 
illustrations " A Rachde Felley " Ghost for the landscape painter 
First water colours Sam Bough's commission Drawing for wood 
engraving Manchester Art Treasures. 

FREDERIC SHIELDS was still working for the firm of Ernst 
in Oxford Road, and in 1854 had secured a place for his 
brother Edwin in the same firm in some humble capacity 
to do with trade ticket printing. But the boy then aged 
fifteen was evidently unable to adapt himself to his new 
surroundings, and doubtless the strict rule of his brother 
was a great change from the loving devotion of an indul- 
gent mother. So Edwin ran away to London and sought 
work in the neighbourhood of his old home. Any efforts 
made by his elder brother to trace his whereabouts were 
apparently of no avail until the following year, when, at 
the end of April, the younger brother, Horace, also ran 
away to London to seek Edwin and employment for him- 
self. Frederic Shields had evidently written to their 
schoolmaster at St. Clement Danes. This gentleman was 
apparently a stranger to him, his old schoolmaster, Mr. 
Thomas Davis, for whom he always cherished the deepest 
regard, having retired some time before. The following 
is the reply : 

ST. CLEMENT DANES CHARITY SCHOOLS, 
May 27th, 1855. 

DEAR SIR, About a month ago I received a letter 
from you, enquiring about your brother, Edwin Shields, 
formerly a pupil in the above school, and requesting me 
to make enquiry after him. I have done so, and with 

32 



THE LITTLE TRAMP 33 

success. I find that lie has got a comfortable situation 
at Mr. Watts', 63 Lincoln's Inn Fields. I must beg you 
will pardon my seeming indifference to your letter, exem- 
plified in the delay that has taken place, when I tell you 
that I have not only found out Edwin, but Horace also. 
I am trying to get him into the establishment of a re- 
spectable butcher in our locality, where, should I be suc- 
cessful, I am sure he will do well. Having known so long 
their poor mother, and knowing also her to have been a 
woman of a very superior mind, and one whose whole life 
was bound up in her children, I have taken more than 
ordinary trouble, and feel rejoiced in being able to give 
such information to you respecting them as may ease the 
harrowing feelings of a kind brother, and allay that intense 
feeling that you must have experienced at their departure 
from you. 

It appears that Horace left last Thursday week with a 
shilling only in his pocket, that he was five days and a 
half travelling to London, that he slept in barns, stables, 
and outhouses belonging to different farmers whom Provi- 
dence threw in his path. I have given him a pair of 
shoes, and his brother Edwin has supplied him with re- 
spectable clothes. May the God of heaven, Who is indeed 
the Protector of the fatherless orphan, watch over them 
and guide them safely through the waves of this wicked 
world, and bring them in His own good time to the land 
of everlasting life. I beg to remain, yours very truly, 

A. W. COLLINS. 



So Horace Shields, aged thirteen years, tramped alone 
from Manchester to London, his heart sore, we doubt not, 
at the loss of the mother who had loved him so dearly, 
and who described him in one of her letters as " such a 
good boy, quite a little servant to me when I am ill." 

Nearly sixty years ago, and yet who can think of it 
without a heartache for the forlorn child sheltering in the 
dark nights in barns belonging to the different or rather 
indifferent farmers " whom Providence threw in his 
path." Doubtless the little lad, with his mischief and 

c 



34 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

irrepressible spirits and pluck, had been a hard trial to 
his pious brother, but had he been given the training and 
environment which ought to be the birthright of every 
child, he might have made a fine citizen. Apparently the 
first situation found for him was not a success, for in June 
a brief letter from Edwin gives an account of him. 

4 LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, 
June 4th, 1855. 

DEAR BROTHER, I write to tell you, as you wanted to 
know, how Horace is getting on. I am very glad to say 
he is in a good situation, though he was very badly off at 
first. He is now at a printer and compositor's in Fetter 
Lane, and if he suits he is to be taught the trade and have 
his board and lodging. 

I am very glad that you are busy and hope you will 
continue so. -Hoping you are well, I remain, yours affec- 
tionately, EDWIN. 

37 ALBERT GBOVE, MANCHESTEB, 
June 25th, 1855. 

DEAR EDWIN, I should have answered you before, 
but I have been waiting in the hope of being able to send 
you some money for Horace, for although you have not 
told me explicitly how he is situated, I daresay he wants 
it, but for this last three weeks I have drawn so little 
money that I have not even been able to keep out of debt. 
I cannot get many people to pay me when my work is 
done. It is now so long since you saw fit to leave me in 
a most wicked way, as if at that time I had not sufficient 
to put me about, and to leave me for a year without the 
slightest information about you until a few weeks ago, 
and then I received half a dozen heartless lines notifying 
to me and still without a word of information about 
yourself that your young brother had followed the bright 
example you had set him, and left the house of the only 
person living with any right of authority over him. As 
I have never received any explanation of your running 
away, and am at a loss to conceive any, except it be my 
prohibition of such cups of iniquity as Reynold's Miscel- 



THE AFFLICTED BROTHER 35 

lany, &c., and the substitution of works calculated to im- 
prove you, not to debase you, I shall be obliged if you will 
let me have those reasons, such as they are, detailed. I 
have only further to add on this unpleasant subject, which 
it was impossible to pass over in silence, that if you do 
not see the vileness of your conduct towards me, nothing 
that I can say more will expose it to you. On the other 
hand, I am inexpressibly overjoyed to hear from Miss 
D'Egremont that you have obtained so comfortable a 
situation, and that your conduct is so highly satisfactory 
to your employers. If there was one thing that grieved 
me more than another in the departure of both you boys, 
it was that, neglectful of the promise you made beside 
your poor dead mother, you both left your Bibles behind 
you. Oh, I implore you, Edwin, as you value God's 
favour, do not neglect His Word. I wish to know if 
Horace has kept his place. Compositors are wretchedly 
paid, if he is apprenticed to that, but he, like you, has 
made his bed, and so must lie on it. Did he bring you 
his prize books, Dale's Poems, and Bingley's Travellers ? 
I know that it is foolish to allow myself to be troubled 
about your welfare when you fly in my face at every turn ; 
but if you were ten times as bad even as you are, I could 
not help it. I see you take blindfold the first step to ruin 
and perdition, and all I say fails to stay you in your pro- 
gress. When did I ever, in my hardest and most severe 
moments (and such I had, I should have been an extra- 
ordinary man if I had not, harassed as I was) seek any- 
thing but your temporal and eternal good ? I assure you 
that the chief thing that has kept me in England has been 
the thought that I should be able to watch over you two 
boys, for in July last my friend, Scott, went to New Zea- 
land, and his father offered (so high is the opinion he 
entertains of me) to pay my passage (25) and set me up 
with his son in business there. The thought of your poor 
mother's children and my brothers restrained me, and I 
refused what might have been the making of me. My 
nightly prayer shall be what it has been ever since you 
left, that God will watch over you where I cannot, and 
incline your heart to remember your Creator in the days 
of your youth. From your afflicted brother, 

FREDERICK. 



36 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Poor Edwin replied : 

63 LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, 
September 6th, 1855. 

DEAR FREDERICK, I received your letter, and am very 
glad to hear from you, as I thought you had forgotten 
me. I am very sorry that you have to work so hard and 
so late at night. I hope you will get paid for your picture 
and that it may be successful. I daresay you have a great 
deal to put up with, and are very much tried with one 
thing and another. I hope you are comfortable in your 
house. Horace is getting on very well, I believe, in his 
situation. I cannot get out but once in three weeks, and 
sometimes not that, so that I cannot get to see him as I 
should like to do. I believe he can do a little in his 
trade ; he lives with his master, so that he has nothing 
to trouble himself about food and lodging. I went to 
the Exhibition last week, and a more splendid place 
cannot be conceived ; it is far superior to the first. The 
different courts are beautiful, especially the " Hall of the 
Aberagynes" (Aborigines?), the roof being illuminated 
with gorgeously stained glass, which gives it the appear- 
ance as when they burn red fire at tne theatre, and the 
ceiling hangs in drops of gold. The floor and walls are 
beautifully inlaid with white and black marble in small 
pieces of diamond shape. The sculptures there are very 
fine, the gardens are not yet finished, but what is done is 
very elegant ; the animals in them are already on the 
banks of a stream, and they are of tremendous size. On 
one of the sides of the river there are represented the 
different strata of the earth, but whether they are real or 
not I do not know. There is a cascade and crystallised 
caverns. It is gradually improving, and of course next 
year it will be much better ; I hope that some time you 
will be able to spare time to see it. 

I am very busy all the year round, and especially so 
in the winter, as there are twenty-seven fires, and the 
lamps are on then, and it is very little time I can get to 
myself, as I can only get out once in three weeks, and 
sometimes not then. I am up at six and I cannot go to 
bed till eleven. I have 5 a year, but I expect to be ad- 
vanced, or else I shall look out for something better. You 



POOR EDWIN 37 

ask me to tell you why I left. I did not like Manchester, 
and not knowing anyone there I was very dull, and I did 
not like that business, and indeed if I had stayed in it 
longer it would have made me worse than I was, and I 
thought I could do better in London, and you know you 
often told me things I did not like . . . however, I hope 
all that is forgotten between us. I hope that, by the 
blessing of God, I may be spared in good health. I hope 
that you have plenty to do and that they pay better ; 
trade is very bad here, and everything extremely dear. 
There are no news here. Jenny Lind is to sing at Exeter 
Hall. I daresay you have heard of the new spectacle at 
Drury Lane ; they say it is very grand indeed but I be- 
lieve it will not do. 

Hoping that you are well, and that you will not make 
yourself uneasy any more, I remain, your affectionate 
brother, EDWIN SHIELDS. 

Edwin was at this time sixteen years of age. Soon 
after, his brother wrote again at great length. 

MY DEAR EDWIN, I am constantly thinking of you 
and wondering what you are doing. It is very nard for 
you to have to light twenty-seven fires, but I think it is a 
much worse and far greater objection that you only get 
out once in three weeks, no one should spend more than 
twenty-four hours without the inhalement of fresh air. 
But an even more serious objection exists in the fact that 
you are compelled to work half the Sabbath. Whatever 
else a master has a right to demand from his servant, he 
has no right to demand that he should disobey the com- 
mands of their common God. "Remember that thou 
keep holy the Sabbath day, in it thou shalt do no manner 
of work, thou nor thy servant." . . . For my own part I 
should not for one moment hesitate in throwing up the 
most lucrative situation rather than labour on the Sabbath. 
... Is there no business or profession to which you would 
like to turn your attention ? If so I will do my best to 
aid you with my counsel. I have repeatedly asked you if 
you read your Bible every night, but you never answer 
me ! I do wish you would relieve me by telling me ; and 



38 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

here, though I am far from counselling you either to 
gloom or fanaticism, I would have you beware of that 
dangerous and unrestrained tendency to wit, which you 
have indulged in; that delight and interest in trifles 
lighter than air which neither make wiser nor happier, 
nay are positively suicidal in their operations against the 
intellect, for wit so miscalled, talks the most and loudest, 
when she has the least to say. It is true wit may be some- 
times used to assist sense, but it is so much more fre- 
quently made its substitute, that it becomes to the mind 
a dire disease. The world, the blind world, thinks wit 
rare. Wisdom is rare, Edwin, wit abounds. Wisdom is 
sacred to the few, while wit is the common property of all 
the gay thoughtless butterflies of fashion and the devotees 
of the wine cup. With them it is indeed wit, widowed of 
good sense, which hoists more sail to run against a rock 
and it is especially with regard to the light and ephemeral 
literature of the present day, which weekly pours forth its 
poisonous cheap compounds of trashy novels, broad grins, 
and comic songs, and such like that I would have you 
beware of this rock. If, as I much fear, you have indulged 
in these, I do trust that what I have now said will induce 
you to consider the sinfulness of a rational creature, re- 
sponsible to God for the right employment of every 
moment of his time, wasting any portion of it in such 
occupations. . . . 

When did you see Horace, and how is he ? I have had 
very indifferent health lately. Believe me, dear Edwin, 
witn ever increasing desire for your eternal happiness, 
your affectionate brother, 

FREDERICK J. SHIELDS. 

It must indeed have been a trouble to Frederic Shields 
to learn that his young brother had been reduced to work- 
ing for more than a year in the service of a tavern-keeper, 
although the surroundings cannot have been so very 
terrible or Mr. Collins, his schoolmaster, would hardly 
have described it as "a very comfortable situation." 

Having nothing to bind him in Manchester, and the 
firm of Ernst having failed, Shields took an engagement 



"A RACHDE FELLEY" 39 

with a Halifax firm, Stott Brothers, at a wage of 50s. 
weekly. Twelve months in these improved surroundings 
invigorated mind and body, and here his first opportunity 
for book illustration presented itself in (incongruously 
enough) a comic vernacular record entitled "A Rachde 
Felley's visit to the Grayt Eggshibishun," of which this 
illustrated edition was first published in 1856. To this 
droll volume Frederic Shields contributed fourteen illus- 
trations, admirably interpreting the spirit of the writer. 
In those days Stott's printing-shop was in Swine Market, 
a few doors below the inn where Defoe is said to have 
commenced writing Robinson Crusoe. The firm remained 
in existence in 1912, and, strangely enough, one of Shields' 
fellow-workers was still in their employ. Mr. William 
Hoyle, who had worked at Stott's for sixty-four years, 
remembered sitting, when a curly-haired boy, as a model 
for Shields, who had to design a large poster for "Dr. 
Marks and his Little Men." Dr. Marks conducted a 
pioneer juvenile band, and young William Hoyle had to 
perform silently no doubt, for the sake of the nerves of 
the artist on each instrument in turn, that Shields might 
compose an attractive picture of the young musicians. 
Mr. Hoyle remembered how proud he felt to think that 
his portraits were to be exhibited on hoardings throughout 
the kingdom. He also gave melancholy evidence of 
Shields' overworked and underfed condition. As a boy, 
when at Maclure & Macdonald's, his mother used to give 
him threepence a day for his dinner, but he usually saved 
half that, by dining on dry bread and coffee, so that 
he might spend his pence on prints and drawing materials. 
At Stott's his wages were good, but he still pursued the 
same course. " Many a time," says Mr. Hoyle, " Shields 
would bring a few pieces of dry bread wrapped in a news- 
paper, and have a pot of coffee made at the shop. He 
never had any meat, nor even was his bread buttered he 



40 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

did more reading than eating at meal times. His scant 
frame clad in shabby clothes, his long hair and unshaved 
whiskers, made him look ' half heckled ' but he had no 
liking for chaff, and an aversion for women." 

The shop worked until 7 P.M. every day, including 
Saturdays, but Shields found time to go sketching. Mr. 
Hoyle lived just opposite the back door of his lodgings, 
and he was often awakened very early on summer morn- 
ings by the sound of the gate opposite. Often, says 
Mr. Hoyle, he jumped out of bed in time to see Shields 
setting out on a sketching expedition ; some mornings he 
went as far as Hebden Bridge a walk of fifteen miles ! 

On returning to Manchester Shields wrote : 

37 ALBERT GROVE, HULMK, MANCHESTER, 
December 7th, 1856. 

MY DEAR EDWIN, You will wonder at my long silence, 
but, indeed, I have been worked so hard lately that I have 
scarce had time to eat my meals, being anxious to finish 
the work before me ere I left Halifax, which I did last 
Saturday week, and you may guess that what with getting 
the house (which, after my absence of near three months, 
was damp and dusty) cleaned and aired, and attending to 
the numerous commissions which I found waiting for me, 
it is but little leisure I have enjoyed since my return. 

And now I know not what to answer you you speak 
of want of amusements and inducement to keep you to 
your work at Ernst's (who, I am grieved to say, is recently 
bankrupt). I have but one thing to accuse myself of at 
Ernst's in my conduct to you, ana that was an intemperate 
passion, continually roused by your opposition to my 
wishes for your good, more frequently than by any other 
cause. I was wrong, and if you knew the grief it has 
since caused me, and the caution it begets in me against 
passion, even when excited by a good cause, you would 
pity me. You say our tastes are different, so different 
that it would be impossible for us to agree. They are 
indeed different, but it would well behove you, dear 
Edwin, I say it in kindness, not in anger, to consider 




" Wat o yed E ad ! un wat ure E ad uppo his faze eh ! " 




1 Aw seed Lord Jon Russil, eh ! 
wat a littul chap E is " 





" O, E sed, you're the last biddur " 



FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS FROM " A RACHDE FELLEY'S 

Un neaw fur wat aw seed ith VISIT TO THE GRAYT EGGSHIBSHUN," 1856 

Parleyment Heause " 



A LANDSCAPE PAINTER 41 

whose tastes, yours or mine, are right in the question at 
issue. You, according to your own confession, have a 
taste for novel reading, insipid and trivial witticisms, and 
uninstructive, time- wasting amusements. I have a moral 
horror and dread of all these things, of some of them as 
positive sins against God, our fellow-men, and our own 
soul, and of the others as things upon which no rational 
man would waste the little time he has to live, and which 
we shall find short enough to accomplish our work in this 
world and prepare ourselves for that which is to come. 
You seem to promise that you will leave the business you 
are in as soon as possible. Oh, do not defer it one moment. 
Now ! Now I Edwin, is the only time we have to do 
anything in ; yesterday is gone, we know not whether 
we shall see to-morrow, whilst you are hesitating to do 
right the opportunity may be gone for ever. I will no 
longer press you just now to come to Manchester, as you 
seem to have so insurmountable an objection to it, and as 
there is certainly reason and kindness in what you say of 
Horace, although I doubt your capability to guide him, 
who are not able to guide yourself. Yet, Edwin, if either 
by influence, money, or advice, I can help you to do better, 
rely on me to the full extent of my power, for I feel toward 
you as St. Paul felt toward the Corinthians, that I " would 
most willingly spend and be spent for you, though the 
more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." 

With the kindest enquiries after yourself and Horace, 
to whom I will shortly write, Believe me, your affection- 
ate brother, FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 

Being weary of the drudgery of commercial design, and 
having a few pounds in his possession, Frederic Shields 
accepted with delight an offer from a landscape painter, 
C. H. Mitchell, to put figures and animals into his pictures. 
This more congenial occupation was only occasional, and 
he found it still necessary to make designs for commercial 
use, sold to the trade for a few shillings each. But the 
struggle for existence becoming less severe, he began 
earnestly to seek a field for his burning passion for art, 
so long held under by dire necessity. And now he made 



42 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

his first independent attempt at a picture. Unable to 
afford adult models, he engaged an Irish child to sit for 
him, and so painted his first water-colour, called "The 
Toilet," the subject being a little girl doing another child's 
hair. Frederic Shields has often related how this picture 
was at once bought by C. H. Mitchell, and how it stood 
upon his studio mantelpiece one day, when Shields was at 
work embellishing a landscape for Mitchell. Sam Bough 
entered and his eye fell upon the little picture. " Hallo ! " 
cried he, " who did this ? " " This youngster," replied 
Mitchell, indicating the young artist. Sam Bough ex- 
claimed, " Will you paint one for me ? " and the delighted 
youth, who held Bough's work in high esteem, could 
hardly be persuaded that he was not joking. But it was 
not for some years afterwards that he painted a picture 
which he felt was worthy to be offered to Sam Bough. 
Another water-colour painted in this year was "Bobber 
and Kibs," a group of five children playing that oddly 
entitled game on some old stone steps. This picture was 
shown at the Royal Institution, and in the Manchester 
Exhibition Review for 1856 it is thus mentioned : "' Bobber 
and Kibs.' This drawing is by a Manchester artist named 
Shields, but it has no place in the catalogue. It is highly 
promising, and in parts the work is excellent. In composi- 
tion it reminds us of the manner of Rubens." In 1857 
Frederic Shields made his first acquaintance, at the Man- 
chester Art Treasures Exhibition, with what he describes 
as "a marvellous unparalleled gathering" of pictures. 
There first he saw Holman Hunt's "Hireling Shepherd" 
and "Strayed Sheep," some of Millais' best early work, 
and Arthur Hughes' " April Love," all revelations to his 
eager eyes. Here, too, he first saw "Christ Washing 
Peter's Feet," by the artist who was later to become so 
dear a friend Ford Madox Brown. 

His diary for this year tells much the same tale as did 




BOBBER AND KIBS 
(1856) 



FIRST WATER-COLOURS 43 

the earlier one, of strenuous work and rigid self-denial. An 
entry for a day in January, taken at random, runs thus : 

21st, Wednesday. Rose at 6, lit fire, prayed, studied 
anatomy of arm until 8.30. Breakfast. At Mitchell's 
copying landscape for him till 1. Wasted an hour at 
Morton's talking of the pictures, &c. Nothing learned, 
came home and was in a hurry for the loss of that hour 
all night. I will spend no more precious time on ac- 
quaintances. Finished Fleming's drawing on wood, worked 
closely until 10 yet could do no more than finish the centre 
piece. After, fell asleep in my chair and woke feeling stiff 
and stupid at 11." 

His brother Edwin, who was still in his situation in 
London, was now evidently showing signs of the dread 
disease which had already carried off their father, sister, 
and mother. One of Frederic Shields' numerous letters 
to him follows : 

37 ALBEBT GROVE, MANCHESTER, 
February 22nd, 1857. 

MY DEAR EDWIN, Your last letter is to me indeed 
a mingled web of pain and pleasure. You must have 
grievously neglected the early symptoms of your cold to 
allow it to reach such a length, and it is indeed evidence 
of your needing someone to watch over you. Pray, Edwin, 
be careful how you expose yourself to draughts, a draught 
is the beginning of the most serious ills. I have told you, 
Edwin, that I am ready to serve you in learning a trade, 
something solid, upon which you can depend for a liveli- 
hood hereafter. I believe that amongst my friends here 
I have many able and willing to serve me in this matter. 
My whole thoughts are at present swallowed up in the 
necessity of helping you from the dreadful condition into 
which you have fallen. Last Sunday, as I was in church 
and thought of you and what I knew you must be engaged 
in, tears sprang into my eyes and I prayed God to en- 
lighten you and to show you the sinfulness of the way in 
which you are. This shall be my prayer daily until it is 
granted. I will say to you as a friend said to the murderer 



44 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Dove, years before he committed the crime for which he 
suffered, when he saw him defying all attempts to reform 
him. " If," he said, "you will go to hell, it shall be over 
mountains of prayers and seas of tears." I trust I have no 
need to assure you of my sympathy with the accident you 
met with, but coming as it did, through the medium of 
the barrels, and therefore of the unlawful traffic in which 
you are engaged, I would bid you enquire how much it is 
probable it was a warning from that God without whose 
Knowledge not a hair of our heads shall perish. Beware 
how you slight it. For what saith St. Paul in the 14th 
Romans ? " It is good neither to eat flesh nor drink wine, 
nor do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is 
offended or is made weak." And do you not daily, not 
even excepting God's day, pursue your unholy traffic, 
whereby thy brother stumbleth and is offended and 
made weak both in body and in soul, and can you expect 
God to bless you, or, as you say, " by God's help I am 
enabled to live very well " ? Edwin, it is not by God's help 
but in defiance of His precepts that you are enabled to 
live sumptuously and clothe fashionably. I cannot see 
you thus without a strenuous effort to snatch you from 
the gulf that yawns open at your feet to devour you. 
Again, I implore you to determine whether you are pre- 
pared to defy God and to disregard the entreaties of a 
brother whose worst fault to you has always been a too 
earnest seeking after your welfare. . . . Your affectionate 
brother, FREDERICK JAMES SHIELDS. 

In justice to poor Edwin, it must be explained that he 
was employed as porter at a tavern doubtless a very un- 
suitable occupation for a delicate boy, though described 
by his schoolmaster as a " most comfortable situation." 
He had an excellent character from his employers, but 
was evidently terribly overworked until too ill to work 
any more. He apparently never received more than 5 
a year, out of which he more than once assisted the 
younger brother Horace, so the sumptuous living and 
fashionable clothing could hardly have existed, save in 
the anxious brain of his devoted elder brother. 



DRAWING ON WOOD 45 

Edwin grew rapidly worse, though his letters show 
that he retained the hopefulness which is usual with 
sufferers from consumption. The following pathetic entry 
occurs in the diary of Frederic Shields : 

March 12th, 1857. Rose at 7. Prayed. This morn- 
ing came a letter from Edwin's master. God, what 
must I do ? Agonised in prayer to God to restore Edwin 
(if it be His Will). I have determined to give up paint- 
ing and devote myself to the acquisition of money to sup- 
port Edwin in his illness when he comes here. He must 
not die so. May God help and support me, for I am sorely 
tried put away my picture for good and all at present." 

Numerous letters passed between the two brothers 
during the next few weeks. Edwin's health seemed to 
improve, and he came to Manchester to stay with his 
brother, who now worked harder than ever to meet his 
increased expenses, still designing trade labels, copying, 
doing ghost for Mitchell and another painter named 
Rothwell, and drawing on wood for the Manchester Art 
Treasures Examiner. He used in after years to relate 
an amusing anecdote of an incident in the picture gallery. 
Each of the rooms of the various schools had its own 
numeration of pictures, and this led to some diverting 
errors in identification of the works. One morning when 
working in the gallery of the British School, he heard the 
ensuing conversation between an old farmer and his wife. 
The good woman's gaze became riveted near the roof 
upon the naked figure of a giant maniac, by Opie, 
sitting upon his hams, his face between his knees, gibber- 
ing in frenzy. " Whoever be he ? " she inquired. Her 
good man opened his catalogue inadvertently in the 
portrait section; "No. 328, Lord John Russell!" he 
wonderingly replied. "Eh," she retorted, "whatever 
made him be taken in that mak' o' fashion ? " Surely an 
insoluble problem. 



CHAFFER III 

First sketching expedition More water-colonrs W. J. Linton's offer 
" Whistle and Answer " Ragged School teaching Illness and death 
of Edwin. 

C. H. MITCHELL was now starting upon a sketching tour 
in Devonshire and made an offer to Shields that he should 
accompany him, and assist him, as usual, by painting 
figures into his landscapes. The offer was joyfully ac- 
cepted, and leaving his brother Edwin in charge of the 
little house in Manchester, Frederic Shields and Mitchell 
set off together. No doubt this introduction to open-air 
work, which led to his painting out of doors for many 
months after, had an incalculable effect hi enabling him 
to resist the disease which proved so fatal to every other 
member of his family, as well as in removing him from 
the immediate danger of infection, which was little 
dreamed of in those days. Of this excursion he writes : 
" I drew all day unweariedly under the stimulus of the 
strange scenes and life about me. A rugged old fisherman 
attracted me, and in three hours I painted in water-colour 
a vigorous full-length which Mitchell sold on his return 
for 20. This opened my eyes to powers unsuspected by 
myself until placed in this hothouse of rich subjects, and 
to the market value of my brush, and determined me to 
work on my own account. Mitchell offered me 5 as a 
share of the price, but I replied that he had paid me the 
weekly wage agreed upon, and he had also borne all 
travelling expenses, so that I could not judge myself 
entitled to accept the gift. I bade my kind employer 

46 








EARLY PORTRAIT STUDY 
Pencil. About 1856 



W. J. LINTON'S OFFER 47 

farewell on his return from Manchester, and made my 
own way over Exmoor to Porlock, which I had noted in 
passing through it in the coach as rich in rustic wealth of 
personalities and subjects." 

Thus he began those exquisite water-colour drawings 
of rustic subjects which were so soon to win him recogni- 
tion as an artist. They found ready sale at moderate 
prices. The necessity of drawing for the trade was gradu- 
ally decreasing; drawing for wood engraving seems to 
have offered a favourable field, though he never felt any 
desire to pursue this branch of art except as a means to 
enable him to live and to support his brother. In Feb- 
ruary 1858 he sends Edwin off to Jersey. This month he 
records cashing Mr. Falkner's cheque, 9, for his picture 
" The Holly Gatherers," a beautiful water-colour drawing 
of two children in snow, one of his earliest finished water- 
colours, very much in the style of William Hunt. This 
picture was engraved on wood and reproduced in the 
Illustrated London News, December 24th, 1859. He had 
received orders to draw on wood several pictures for the 
Manchester Art Treasures Examiner, including " The 
Three Maries" of Caracci, " The Return of Moses from the 
Fair," by Maclise, Gainsborough's " Blue Boy," and others. 
This led him into contact with W. J. Linton, the eminent 
wood engraver, and on Thursday, February 18th, the diary 
records : 

" Rose 7. Read I. Corinthians. Received letter from 
W. J. Linton offering me work on the Illustrated News of 
the World, and desiring me to go to London, a matter for 
deep consideration, especially as I have now so many 
commissions here, and my connection becoming extended. 
Worked at sky of Lindale. Design of Odd Fellows Card 
for Falkner. Read Don Quixote. Ernst's ticket to bed- 
time. Wrote to Linton, requesting to know the sort of 
work and wages. Think I shall stay here." 



48 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

These are Linton's letters : 

6 LOWEB CALTHORPE STREET, 
GRAY'S INN ROAD. 

MY DEAR SIR, I have just undertaken the entire 
management of the pictorial department of a new paper, 
The Illustrated News of the World. Would you like now 
to come to London ? I can promise you work to-morrow, 
and regularly. Would be glad, indeed, of your immediate 
help, if you choose to come on the chance, come at once. 
If you would like more exact agreement as a prudent 
man should write me directly what sum per week would 
satisfy you. I do not mean therefore to engage your whole 
time, but only to undertake to find you at least work to 
that amount, at a not lower proportionate rate than you 
have been working at. Yours in haste, very faithfully, 

W. J. LlNTON. 

6 LOWER CALTHORPE STREET, 
February 19th, 1858. 

MY DEAR SIR, You yourself must be the judge of 
which is more to your advantage to stay at Manchester 
or come here. The work I would have for you would be 
copying pictures on wood. I do not propose to fill up your 
time, but only supply you with a certain regular income 
in return for certain regular work. Think it over, and, 
recollecting the time occupied by the drawings you made 
for me, tell me what sum per week would satisfy you for 
what time ; and how long you would need such an amount 
guaranteed to you, this if it seems desirable to you still to 
come to town. 

If not, my proposition is at an end. Of course, never- 
theless, I shall be glad at any time to put work in your 
hands, so far as the distance between us may allow. 
Yours very faithfully, W. J. LINTON. 

The diary continues 

" February 22nd. Rose at 7. Prayer. Lit fire. Read 
I. Corinthians, 9th chapter. To Mitchell's, put figure in 
his Pier drawing. Letter from Edwin. Lodging in Jersey 
dear, 6s. a week, food the same as here, so that it promises 



SIX COMMISSIONS 49 

to be a dear move. God help me to support it. Wrote to 
Linton declining his offer to draw for the new paper. God 
grant I may have decided for the best. Worked at ticket 
for Ernst. Sent 1 to Edwin. Stretched paper, put my 
study right for working in morning. Chilblains very bad. 
There is still much to do ere I shall be clear of odd jobs, 
and ready to paint." 

An unusually interesting entry follows : 

" March 1st. Rose at 7. Prayer. Finished Falkner's 
Odd Fellows ticket thank God he liked it, though I was 
doubtful. To Dunham, as it was snow, to study for 
Lomax's picture, but when I arrived found there had been 
no snow there. Walked through the old park and fixed 
upon as much as I think would compose a picture, but 
could do nothing for the wind. Missed my way and got 
to Broadheath Station, waited an hour and a half for 
train, got into the wrong one, found out my mistake two 
stations off", and had to wait two hours for a return train. 
Saw there a capital figure, a donkey cart driver, with a 
green wide-awake and a red cotton handkerchief tied 
round and under his chin to keep it on must remember 
him. Began to snow as I came back. Got off at Oxford 
Road. Called on Falkner; he said he had extraordinary 
good news for me ; Edmund Potter, Col. Hamilton, and 
others of the Art Treasures Committee had expressed 
their approval of my picture and given their word for six 
commissions. I am really stupefied by this sudden change 
of fortune. God keep me humble under it. Wrote Edwin. 
Prayer and bed 11." 

The first of these new commissions was " Whistle and 
Answer," a large water-colour, here reproduced by permis- 
sion of the owner, Mr. James Parkinson. 

" March 25th. Rose at 6. Prayer. Letter from Edwin, 
he is better, thank God, but has no work yet. Went out 
again to look for a model and called on old Donnell about 



50 

my boots. He told me of a lad at a coal shed, whom I 
found the very thing. Little Patsey I shall try to make 
play the small girl's part. Worked at them till 6 and got 
the lad drawn in, drew his head whistling and succeeded 
moderately in the expression but the drawing is weak. 
Got out Thackeray's Esmond, tea. Tried to read Bible, 
but fell asleep twice. I should not have done that over 
Esmond. Shame. Paregoric and gruel, Ipecachuanha, 
hot water, mustard, Thomas a Kempis." 

With this vigorous treatment the cold evidently im- 
proved, and work continued in much the same daily 
round. The ticket for Ernst, and the " Eagle and Lion" 
in the next entry, refer to designs for lithography. 

"April 5th. Rose 6. Prayed. Read Ephesians 4th. 
Finished Ernst's ticket and sent 'Eagle and Lion' to 
Stott's. I must have money and this is a ready means. 
My model, little Lucy, could not come until one o'clock, 
so feeling that I wanted air, I walked down as far as the 
' devil's grounds ' the fair. Went into a sparring booth 
from curiosity two mere lads put on the gloves and 
fought for a quarter of an hour. Was delighted to see a 
stall of the British and Foreign Bible Society placed in 
the middle of the ungodly throng the man holding a 
placard ' For we must all appear before the Judgment 
Seat of Christ.' Bibles 8d., lOd and I/- each. Called 
for Lucy coming home and set to work, Sketched her 
feeling in her pocket for some crumbs to throw to the 
Robin, but I fear it distracts you and destroys the unity 
of the subject which ought to turn on the pleasure derived 
from the bird's answering. Miserably dispirited. Drew 
at School of Design in evening outlined hands. Called 
on Mr. Barnes to ask for time to pay my rent, which he 
graciously accorded. Bed at 11." 

A note early in this year mentions that he had asked 
Mr. Hammersley to allow him admission hi the evenings 




WHISTLE AND ANSWER 



RAGGED SCHOOLS 51 

to the School of Design. We find frequent references to 
work done there, principally drawing from the antique. 

Another picture, commenced in June, was a water- 
colour of children in a flowery field blowing dandelion 
seeds, entitled " What's o'clock ? " On June 8th the diary 
records : 

"Letter from Edwin, God knows where I shall get 
money to send him, have but a shilling left." 

The struggle to live, and to support his unfortunate 
brother, while endeavouring to carry on his pictures which 
brought no immediate payment was very severe during 
this year. Insufficient food and privation of every kind 
had played havoc with what must have been an iron con- 
stitution, and the long hours of work, the solitary life, and 
nervous strain, combined to produce constant attacks of 
weakness and pain. In spite of all this, we read on June 
30th : 

" Was elected a candidate for teachership at our 
school meeting. Tea capital, stayed until 11,30, sang, 
prayed, home by 12.30, very tired." 

Many spare evenings during the next few years were 
devoted to teaching in the Sunday-school, and in the 
Ragged Schools, which were founded by his friend, 
Edwin Gibbs, whose portrait by Frederic Shields now 
hangs in the Manchester Art Gallery. He and Gibbs 
used to spend many evenings in distributing tracts and 
visiting the sick and fever-stricken poor in the garrets 
and cellars in the slums of Manchester. Edwin Gibbs 
was by profession a music-teacher ; evidently as highly 
strung, over-worked, and nervous as Shields himself, his 
too self-sacrificing labours eventually terminated in mental 
collapse. 

Fortunately Shields had serious doubts as to his fitness 
for a teacher, having little patience or ability to control 
the very rowdy boys who frequented the classes in those 



52 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

days. He realised that he could teach through his 
pictures better than by word of mouth, though at one 
period an evangelical preacher, for whom he had a great 
respect, tried hard to persuade him to forsake painting 
for preaching, " lest art should become his idol." 

" August 21st. Rose at 6. Prayer. To Withington 
for background, not the thing. Came back, found some- 
thing nearer home, but by then the day so dull that I was 
only able to outline it. Looked for pink frock for child, 
got it from Mrs. Donoghue stayed some time arguing 
and exhorting her husband, very ill doctor given him 
up. Exhorted him to flee to Christ for salvation, and not 
to give himself up to self-righteousness as he was doing 
sick, and a Papist. Called for Amelia to sit for hair of 
girl they had cut it so floored again. Painted child's 
boots. To School of Design in evening, drew child's 
head." 

In September Frederic Shields had three pictures 
hung in the Manchester Exhibition. The diary relates : 

" September 8th. Rose at 5. Prayer. Read James 4th. 
Prepared for work and went to the Exhibition Varnish- 
ing day intending to be back at 1 to work. Some first- 
rate pictures. They have hung me, thank God, capitally 
too well, better than I deserve. Feel much benefited by 
the sight, freshened for work. Called at Grundy's for 
colours. Smith showed me an exquisite Turner of Holy 
Island, a marvellous effect of Storm Cloud. Thank God 
Stanway bought my Etty. Letter from Edwin. Prayer. 
Tea. Old woman called and I had a talk with her against 
her Unitarianism." 

A letter to Edwin follows : 

" You know so well the difficulties I have to contend 
with, in money matters, while engaged on a drawing, 
that it is not needful to apologise lor not answering your 
letters before. Last night I got paid for my copy of 



MANCHESTER EXHIBITION 53 

Etty's Sirens, and hasten to send you the enclosed thirty 
shillings. I am grieved that you are no longer employed to 
teach at the school ; though intrinsically not worth think- 
ing about, it helped a little, and more, it kept you from 
listless indolence a state into which, unless you obtain 
some employment or apply yourself energetically to some 
study likely to be of service arithmetic, for instance 
you will inevitably fall. I am still at work on my ever 
work-exacting picture. I have over-estimated my strength 
in this attempt, and come very near failure, only vigorous 
exertion can save me from it. You will be glad to hear 
that I have three drawings well hung, in the Exhibition. 
I believe they are doing me good. One is 'The Holly 
Gatherers.' Robert Carrick has a most exquisite picture, 
the gem of the Exhibition ' Thoughts of the Future '- 
a mother bending over her sleeping boy. Ruskin praised 
him so highly for his Academy picture this year, that he 
could not have gone much further in his approbation. I 
hope this lack of money has not troubled you so much as 
to influence your health. I sold the ticket you did of two 
dogs to Wilcox last week for 3/6. Trade is very slack. 
Tell me how you employ your Sundays now. Have you 
family prayer every day where you lodge ? Of course 
these things cannot save, but the neglect of them will 
destroy." 

The brother's letters from Jersey are usually very 
hopeful ; he is always expecting improved health, some- 
times full of a chance of getting employment on a ship 
now as steward on a boat going to the West Indies, now as 
a hand on board a fishing vessel, bound for Newfound- 
land the great attraction in the last idea being that cod 
liver oil could then be procured more cheaply. Neither 
seemed to realise that the poor lad was within a few months 
of dying of consumption. 

But at last the landlady at Jersey refuses to keep him 
any longer ; he can get no reason from her except that she 
fears he will need more attention than she can give. In 
December, when Frederic Shields is staying with a friend, 



54 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

J. Edmondson, at Queenswood College, Stockbridge, Hants, 
we learn that Edwin has returned to Southampton. 



January 24th, 1859. 

DEAR EDWIN, If it please God, I will come and see 
you on Saturday next, and spend the Sunday with you. 
Am very sorry you had so rough a voyage. Do you feel 
better now, after the seasickness ? The captain was very 
kind indeed it is not what many of them would do. 
I hope your lodgings are in a healthy part of the town, 
not in a close narrow street. I am suffering from tooth- 
ache at intervals. 

You must be wretched, so placed among strangers, 
but what can we do? Southampton is, as I told you, 
reported one of the healthiest towns in England, and those 
suffering from chest diseases generally find great relief 
from their removal there. If I were to take you back to 
Manchester with me, I fear it would be to repent it. Your 
illness is so prolonged as to be alarming, and you seem to 
have behaved with an ignorance at once fatal and as- 
tonishing. I must see you myself and so determine what 
to do. I thought you were getting strong and stout 
again, when instead you are thus prostrated. Do you feel 
your chest sore again, as you did last whiter? But, 
it's no use asking questions, I pray shortly to see you face 
to face and have all my doubts resolved. You must go 
to a doctor, whatever it costs. He won't want paying 
directly, and, please God, against he does, I shall be 
returned and able to set my foot firm again. Remember 
your former dread experience in London with a chemist, 
and be warned in time. Don't go to the Homeopathists, 

1 have been studying it lately and believe it an im- 
posture. If they cure, it is by leaving Nature to herself. 
Their system is absurd, absurdity in practice must 
result. . . . 

Dear Edwin, once more let me impress upon you the 
necessity for studying the Holy Scriptures. Look at 

2 Tim. lii. chap., 15 to 17. ... Look, too, at 1 Cor. xv., 
1, 2. . . . Your affectionate brother, 

FREDERICK SHIELDS. 



THE DYING BROTHER 55 

The diary records: 

" Saturday, 29th January 1859. Rose at 8. Prayer. 
Woodford 10 to 12. Walked to Dumbridge. Raining 
heavily, cleared up so that I was dry by the time I got 
there. Thank God, I was not allowed to turn back, for 
when I got to Southampton I found a Ghost, rather than 
Edwin. God ! pardon me ! He had not told me half, 
and I had been pressing him to work when he was not fit 
to move. My God, forgive me ! Praise Thee for the friends 
Thou hast raised up in his extremity." 

The friends seem to have been people named Clarke, 
living at Southampton, who showed kindness to the 
invalid, and wrote to his brother almost daily after he had 
returned to Manchester. 

On the advice of the doctor, Edwin was admitted to 
the Infirmary as soon as it could be arranged, there being 
no hospital which would receive him. 

BKOUGHTON, HANTS, February 8th. 

MY DEAR EDWIN, Miss Clarke's note informs me that 
at length they have admitted you to the Infirmary. Oh, 
had this been done before, there might have been hope. 
But it is vain to repine and think what might have been. 
Let me know how you are, for you know how concerned I 
am and shall be, for your comfort ; do not, I pray you, 
neglect any precaution or comfort attainable. Have I 
ever hesitated between my interest and your health that 
you should have forborne to confide in me ? Oh, my dear 
brother, do agonise, pray and faint not in your endeavour 
to see Jesus as your Saviour. Let us remember that it 
is the Lord who killeth and maketh alive, and commit 
our souls to His keeping. I am glad Horace has written 
to you again, does he know how weak you are ? Would 
you like to see him ? If so, tell Miss Clarke, she will 
let me know. Why did I not know how sick you were 
long before ? I had no idea you were so ill. You say you 
received some peace from the texts. Cling to it. Has it 
never appeared to you that God, in sending this disease at 



56 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the first at London, sent it in mercy to bring you to Him, 
to repent and humble yourself? And then when Dr. 
Mason thought you were at death's door, sparing you 
until now, giving you time and space to repent, " for He 
wills not that a sinner should perish, but mat he should 
turn from his sins and be saved. ' And ought it not to be 
a strong ground of hope to you, that " whom the Lord 
loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He 
receiveth ? " Blessed reparation lor our afflictions, enough 
to make us rejoice under them. ... I shall be anxious 
until I hear now you have borne the journey to the 
Infirmary. Mrs. Clarke understands and thinks it best 
that you should enter as a paying patient. They must 
make a difference, or they are very superior beings, not to 
be so influenced. I earnestly pray for you, body and 
spirit. Do write, if able, and tell me all. Your affec- 
tionate brother, FREDERICK SHIELDS. 



Many letters in the same strain follow, with lengthy 
texts and exhortations, page upon page. 

Poor Edwin's letters from Jersey had always shown 
pathetic anxiety that his brother's painting should not 
be interfered with, but every attempt at securing em- 
ployment had failed doubtless mainly on account of 
his weak health except for one brief engagement as 
temporary teacher in the school at 5s. a week. Now, 
in the Infirmary, his pathetic letters still regret burden- 
ing his brother, he still hopes for work, work of any 
kind, and finds it hard, he says, to "pacify himself" 
with texts. But his notes get shorter and shorter, more 
and more illegible, until they are replaced by business- 
like reports from Miss Clarke. She writes to Frederic 
Shields about the state of the dying boy's soul, as well 
as of his fast failing body, and declares herself con- 
vinced as to his being in a proper state of repentant 
resignation. 

And so dies Edwin Shields, aged nineteen years, 



THE VICTIM OF POVERTY 57 

surely more the victim of the miserable social and in- 
dustrial conditions of the " hungry forties " than of a 
remorseless Providence who is accused of deliberately 
chastening him with lingering disease and misery into 
his early grave. 



CHAPTER IV 

Russell Street, Hulme Picture hung at the Royal Institution Illustrated 
London News The Pilgrim's Progress Charles Kingsley's adrice 
Poverty Death of Horace " Vanity Fair " Ruskin's praise Row- 
botham the picture-dealer. 

FREDERIC SHIELDS returned to Manchester soon after his 
brother was admitted to the Infirmary, and in the diaries 
there is no further reference to Edwin ; for the day on 
which he died March 16th, 1859 and for a week after- 
wards the pages are cut out. But neither grief, nor loneli- 
ness, nor want could still the inward fire which fiercely 
impelled Frederic Shields to devote every thought, every 
hour, and every spark of nervous energy to the fulfilment of 
his life's dream. In April we read of more commissions 
one from Mr. Craven for a picture of an old beehive-maker 
at a price of 20. Another drawing of the same subject, 
painted in the previous year and sold to a Mr. Lomax for 
5, was shown at the Exhibition of Shields' work at the 
Brazenose Club, Manchester, in 1889. 

In June he is much troubled by the piano-playing of 
a neighbour, and decides that he must seek another house. 

He is still obliged to draw lithographers' tickets and to 
work for Mitchell at intervals, for, as he pathetically 
remarks in a letter, " one can't live off pictures." 

" July 1st. Rose 5. Wash. Prayer. Bible. Feel very 
undecided about Russell Street house. 6 per year is a 
great deal more. Prayed to God to guide me and prevent 
my doing wrong or rashly. Put hens in landscape. Red 
chalk sketch of ' Fisher Boy.' Determined on Russell Street 

58 




THE BEEHIVE MAKER 
Hampshire, 1858 



THE NEW HOUSE 59 

house and went to see the landlord ; arranged to give him 
an agreement for nine months. Drew a ticket for Fleming 
If hours. Read newspaper account of this fearful battle." 

On July 16th he moved to the new house, Russell 
Street, Hulme. 

July 28th. Rose at 4.30. To Mr. Falkner's, sketching 
on the way. Rough colour sketch of Master Charley 
Falkner. . . . Called on Letherbrow, and with him Will 
Lomax. Thank God, he bought my old woman washing 
for 4, and paid me. To old Donnell, and hair cut. 
Stayed to listen to a quack and a working man preaching 
with great power in Stretford Road. 

" How evil ramifies. I have been unconcentrated and 
listless to-day, and I sin against Frugality in wasting time 
(that is, money) ; against Justice, because I might pay my 
debts with money earned in the wasted time ; against 
Sincerity, because I pretend to be eager to pay, and so on." 

" 30th. Rose at 6. ... Got Life of Velasquez out of 
Free Library. Sketched two hours walking about streets ; 
got two capital subjects. Sketched pump in Oxford Road 
for picture. ..." 

" August 3rd. Rose 5. Wash. Prayer. Breakfast. 
Got ready to go to the moors ; went by 10.20 train. Very 
windy when I got there, and the heather in flower only in 
small patches, so could do nothing. Made a sketch or 
two for ' Gems of the Emerald Isle.' Waited in cottage 
during rain and sketched the old Grandmother's head for 
them. Walked across moor to train 5 o'clock. Called 
at Grundy's ; met Charles Ernst, and had a very earnest 
talk with him about his soul's state." 

The inevitable beginning, " Wash, Prayer, Bible, Break- 
fast," is gradually abbreviated to " W. P. B. B," though 
for years it is neatly written at the commencement of 
each day. 

" August 7th. Rose 6. W.P.B.B. To Mr. Falkner's ; 



60 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

painted Charley's head to 1. Dinner with them ; very 
pleasant and social. Went to Royal Institution; my 
pictures too well hung thank God amen. I deserve it 
not in any sense. To Rowbotham's, and Lomax, to Mr. 
Rawson ; went over to Examiner office with him ; he 
wants cover designed for a new weekly of standard re- 
issue ' People's Library.' 

" Wrote up outline of Ragged School address for 
Sunday ; have proposed a Mothers' Meeting there, but 
met little encouragement." 

Weeks go on in much the same round of work, study, 
and devotion. 

In October he first saw the Pre-Raphaelite illustrations 
to Tennyson, and was immensely impressed by them. 

On November 2nd a commission was given to Frederic 
Shields which was to change greatly his manner of work, 
and which for the first time gave him an opportunity in 
design in a subject which roused all his enthusiasm. In 
the diary the entry is as follows : 

" Wednesday, November 2nd. Called on Crozier and 
saw his drawings, which are very clever. Took Old 
Ragman to Lomax to mount. To Morton's, Examiner 
and Times office, and saw Mr. Rawson ; got near sixty 
designs to do for Pilgrim 8 Progress ! God help me to 
serve in this, amen. Received from Orrin Smith to-day a 
block to draw ' Christmas Eve ' on it. Asked Falkner, 
who was very kind and obliging." 

The picture, engraved on wood by Orrin Smith, was 
reproduced in the Illustrated London News, December 
24th, 1859, with the following notice, interesting if only 
as an example of contemporary art criticism : 

" Mr. Frederic J. Shields, of Hulme, Manchester (an 
admirable local artist, and particularly happy in domestic 
subjects), has produced a very pretty picture of Christmas 
gathering, now the property of George Falkner, Esq., of 



A GREAT OPPORTUNITY 61 

Manchester, which we have received permission to en- 
grave. In this simple production, so full of truly English 
nature, we have a couple of children, laden with their 
evergreen store, just emerging from the secluded copse 
where it had been gathered. They look healthy, happy, 
and proud the little one especially of their day's work, 
and in the reflection that they have done their share 
towards to-morrow's festive display. We wish Mr. Shields 
many happy returns of ' Christmas Eve,' and hope he 
will produce many more such choice and pleasant sketches 
of human life." 

" Christmas Eve," renamed the " Holly Gatherers," was 
shown at the Exhibition of the work of Frederic Shields 
at the Brazenose Club, Manchester, in 1889 ; also in London 
at the Memorial Exhibition in 1911. 

In after years he wrote of the Pilgrims Progress com- 
mission : " Here was a mighty drama, its scene thinly 
veiling the invisible world ranging from the City of 
Destruction through the Slough of Despond, the deadly 
fight of Apollyon, to the triumphant passage of the Black 
Styx and the welcome entrance into the New Jerusalem. 
Fearful of this chance fading, I tremulously asked 1 each 
for the designs, save the ' Vanity Fair ' agreed at 2. The 
bargain was struck, and I went to my unlucrative task 
happier than if I had struck a gold mine. Now, at last, 
my life, I felt, had begun." 

There had recently been published an edition of the 
Pilgrims Progress, illustrated by C. H. Bennett, with a 
preface by Charles Kingsley, to whom Shields now appealed 
for advice. His kindly reply explains the nature of the 

inquiries : 

EVBESLEY RECTORY, WINCHPIELD, 
November 29th, 1859. 

DEAR SIR, Your letter is sensible and pertinent to the 
matter in hand, and I tell you at once what I can. 

I think that you overrate the disuse of armour in 



62 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Bunyan's day. When the Pilgrim's Progress was written, 
it was much gone out ; but in Bunyan's boyhood he must 
have seen everywhere old armour hanging up in every 
gentleman's or good burgher's house (he would to his 
dying day) which had been worn and used by the genera- 
tion before him. Allowing as we must in every human 
being for the reverence for early impressions, I think his 
mind would have pictured to him simply the Elizabethan 
and James Ist's armour which he saw hanging in all noble 
houses, and in which he may have, as a boy, seen gentle- 
men joust, for tilting was not extinct in his boyhood. As 
for this co-existing with slop breeches (what we now call 
knickerbockers are nothing else), I think you will find 
that, as now, country fashions changed slowlier than town. 
The pufied trunk hose of 1580-1600 co-existed with the 
finest cap-a-pie armour of proof. They gradually in the 
country, where they were ill-made, became slops, i.e. 
knickerbockers. By that time almost loose and short 
cavalie/ breeks had superseded them in the court but 
what matter ? The change is far less than that during 
1815-1855. The anachronism of putting complete armour 
by the side of one drest as Christian as in the frontispiece 
of the original edition of the Pilgrims Progress is far less 
than putting you by the side of a Lifeguards officer of 
1855 ; far less, again, than putting a clod of my parish, 
drest as he would have been in A.D. 1100 in smock frock 
and leather gaiters, by the side of you or me. 

Therefore use without fear the oeautiful armour of the 
later years of Elizabeth and the beginning of James 1st, 
and all will be really right, and shock nobody. As for 
shields, I should use the same time. Shields were common 
among serving men in James I. There are several in the 
Tower, fitted with a pistol to be fired from the inside, and 
a long spike. All are round. I believe that " sword and 
buckler play" was a common thing among the country 
folk in Bunyan's time. Give your man, then, a circular 
shield, such as he would have seen in his boyhood, or 
even later, among the retainers of noble houses. As for 
the cruelties committed on Faithful for the sake of 
humanity don't talk of that. The Puritans were very 
cruel in the North American colonies horribly cruel 



THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 63 

though nowhere else. But in Bunyan's time the pages 
of Leger and Morland show us that in Piedmont, not to 
mention the Thirty Years' War in Germany horrors 
were being transacted which no pen can describe or pencil 
draw. Dear old Oliver Cromwell stopped them in Pied- 
mont when he told the Pope that unless they were stopped 
English cannon should thunder at the gates of the Vatican. 
But no bestiality or cruelty to man or woman, that you 
can draw, can equal what was going on on the Continent 
from Papist to Protestant during Bunyan's time. 

I have now told you all I can. I am very unwell and 
forbid to work. Therefore I cannot tell you more; but 
what I send, I send with all good wishes to any man who 
will be true to art and to his author. Yours faithfully, 

C. KINGSLEY. 



Most of this letter was printed in the Life and Letters 
of Charles Kingsley. 

During the next few weeks the diary records much 
study of Bunyan's life, contemporary history, authorities 
on costume and accessories, searching for models, and 
preparing wood blocks. This ill-paid work was soon to 
reduce Shields again to the direst poverty. The diary 
for 1860 begins to record the expenditure of every hour of 
time and every farthing of money with even more rigorous 
exactitude than before. 

In January he records : 

"Saturday, 14th. Rose to 6. W.P. Bkft. Read 
I. Sam. To Falkner's, Rowbotham's, Waterhouse's, 
Fleming's, and to Rawson's thank God from my heart 
got him to promise 3 for the large designs. Reviewed 
last year's income from March 15th, being 91. 8. 5., and 
the outlay 91. 16. 7|., showing a balance of 8/2| against 
me. Arranged the twenty subjects from Pilgrim's Pro- 
gress for Rawson's, approved and settled what accessories, 
backgrounds, &c., I need in Derbyshire. Read Carlyle's 
Cromwell." 



64 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

From the 18th to the 27th there are no entries. Pre- 
sumably these days were spent sketching in Derbyshire, 
for on the 27th the diary records : 

" Rose at 7. To Railway Station 8. Manchester 9. 
Walk from Ardwick home, put on clean things, cleared 
my pockets of Derbyshire accumulations and put all 
things straight. Worked at Simple, Sloth, and Presump- 
tion. Proof of Christian reading the Book from Swain 
unsatisfactory. Out to seek model for head of Presumption, 
got an old clothes man. Dinner at 4. Accounts \ past 4. 
Dressed and to Armstrong to see his picture had tea 
there and played Loto and Schimmel for the first time, 
left at 9.30, having been there from 5 o'clock, shameful 
waste of God's time entrusted to me. Read Bible, prayer, 
bed." 

Week after week passes in much the same round of 
work. 

" February 22nd. Rose 7. Traced Christian at Cross 
on wood. To Theatre to borrow dress. To Infirmary to 
see poor Jane Hoyle. How thankful should I be that God 
gives me health hi spite of my sins and the hardness of 
my heart. To Ragged School at a quarter to 7 a rough 
night of it there, dreadful. Home 11.30. O Lord, crush 
and break my hasty, unmortified temper, Amen, for Thy 
Glory's Sake, that my light may shine before men un- 
dimmed. Wrote begging time to pay the Poor Rate. 
Prayer. Bed. 

"March 1st. Rose 7. ' Vanity Fair ' to 3. Dinner. To 
town to see G. W. Edmondson about a model for Wanton 
in the Pilgrim's Progress. Saw him and arranged to go 
with him the whole round of the scenes of Manchester 
dissipation. Got tea first, and then to the Canterbury 
Hall, next to the Dog, then the Shakespeare, and at 
12 o'clock to the Egyptian Hall, where I staid sketching 
till 3 A.M. Having had a terrible row with two of the 




H 

CO 



THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 65 

girls about it, I was most mercifully preserved from harm. 
To the Shakespeare again just as it was closing, and home 
to Edmondson's by 4.30. Bed. I could not pray, for I have 
sinned and I fear wilfully led both Edmondson and myself 
into temptation, and though the Lord has preserved us 
from outward evil, this lessens not my crime. 

" March 12th. Rose at 8. Out to look for model for 
Christian. Drew him until 2. Prepared blocks and 
traced. Morton called at 9 P.M. and brought a sketch he 
wanted making of Star the horse-tamer. Thank God, for 
I had no money left. Did it by 2.30 A.M. Got 10/- for it. 
Prayer. Bed at 3. 

"March 2th. Rose at 5. Lit fire. Made extracts 
from Bunyan's Heavenly Footman. Traced Faithful and 
Wanton. Sorted portfolio for drawings to finish, by which 
to make some money. Sketched Moses and Faithful. 
John Taylor called. Got him to stand for Faithful. Went 
to Ragged School in evening. Mrs. Poynter did not come, 
and I found myself left to teach the Mothers' class, an 
awkward place, but I received strength. Went to see 
Gibbs after, and we resolved to write seventy letters to 
the people around, on their souls. Bed at 12." 

In May he is still working at the Pilgrims Progress 
designs, notably the "Good Shepherd" and the "Man 
with a Muck Rake," finding the proofs from the wood 
blocks still unsatisfactory. Blank pages in June indicate 
another sketching expedition, this time to Disley. In 
July he begins the wonderful design of "Vanity Fair" 
and records " Failure after failure." 

During the latter months of this year he heard of the 
serious illness of his young brother Horace, who had been 
working at his situation as compositor, but now developed 
the malady which had caused the death of all the other 
members of the family. Frederic Shields now sadly 
journeyed to London to visit the sick boy. Horace Shields 

E 



66 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

died in Brompton Hospital on November 19th, at the age 
of eighteen. Long hours of work in an ill-ventilated 
printing-room from the age of thirteen, with scanty pay 
and indifferent food, gave him little chance of resisting 
the disease to which he was doubtless predisposed. From 
his letters he would appear to have had a lively disposi- 
tion. He seldom wrote to his brother Frederic, though 
he once returned to Manchester for a few days when his 
brother Edwin was ill. His boyish letters are singularly 
cheerful, although he was often out of work and always 
desperately poor. For his unfortunate brother, Edwin, he 
had a great affection, and whenever he had a few pence to 
spare from his wretched wages he sent them cheerfully to 
Edwin when he was ill in Jersey. 

The pages of Shields' diary are again blank for several 
days, only the date of the youngest brother's death being 
recorded. 

During the following year the entries continue. The 
first design for "Vanity Fair" was abandoned after six 
months' work for a better conception, and when this was 
finished the artist felt that he had accomplished something 
which showed he had higher powers than those required 
for " mere rustic subjects." 1 

In May 1861 we still see notes of work at "Vanity 
Fair." 

"May 18th. Rose 7. Practice from Holbein. Sim- 
plicity of shading, arranging ornaments for lady's dress. 
Wrote to Editor Once a Week. Sketched dress of court 
lady and two spaniels, fan, and wig of King. To Free 
Library. 

" May 20th.' Vanity Fair.' Legs of King. The poet's 

1 In 1912 a portfolio containing many of Shields' studies for these 
wonderful designs was offered for sale in the collection of the late Mr. 
Richard Johnson, an early patron of Shields. These drawings (of which 
two are here reproduced) were purchased by the Victoria and Albert 
Museum, where the interesting collection can now be seen. 




o 
a! 
U 



H 

H 

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< 

H 
in 

s 

a 
u 




"VANITY FAIR" 67 

hair, face, and leg. To see Gibbs, very ill, rubbed him. 
Saw Dr. Brown who told me my lungs are sound. I have 
reason indeed to be thankful to God if it is so. Sinned 
by staying with William Gibbs too long and breaking my 
vow of work. Drew poet and University man. 

" Tuesday, June 18th. Finished ' Vanity Fair ' by 12 
o'clock. Rid up back room of prints, draperies, &c. 
Began letter to Ruskin, and prepared colour box to 
paint." 

Swain had engraved several of the smaller drawings to 
the artist's entire satisfaction, but some had been proved 
to lose much by the wire-like line of the engraver. For 
this wonderful drawing of "Vanity Fair," on which he 
had lavished so much work and care, he felt more anxious 
and sought the advice of Ruskin as to an engraver who 
could do justice to the work. But Ruskin was abroad, 
and a faded letter dated " Denmark Hill, June 25th, 1861," 
signed "John James Ruskin," explains: "My son left 
home a week ago, exhausted with seeing people and writing 
letters and troubled with a cough. Having permission to 
open all letters addressed to him, I may say, in reply to 
yours of yesterday, that it will be laid before my son 
on his return from the Continent, which (D.V.) may be 
before October." 

No doubt Shields felt bitterly disappointed by this 
letter, for October would be too late, and the engraving 
could not be delayed so long. Evidently Ruskin already 
knew something of Shields' work, probably from a visit to 
the Manchester School of Art, where Mr. Hammersley, 
the headmaster, might have mentioned the young man 
who came to study there in the evenings. In any case, 
Mr. Ruskin, senior, changed his mind and forwarded the 
letter promptly, for in a note dated " Poste Restante, 
Boulogne-sur-Mer, June 28th," Ruskin writes : " I have 
just received your note of the 25th from my father. 



68 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

I have been going to write to Mr. Hammersley to ask 
about you, over and over again you know you left 
several of your proofs and sketches with me, they were 
taken care of. Please write to above address and tell me 
what you wished to tell me, and let me hear about your 
work." 

The photograph from the drawing on the wood was 
then sent to Ruskin, who again writes : 

BOULOGNE, 7th July 1861. 

MY DEAR MR. SHIELDS, I have the photograph quite 
safely. I think the design quite magnificent full of 
splendid power. 

I wish you could send me a photograph not enlarged, 
and more sharp, to give me some idea of the drawing, 
which I shoula think must be wonderful, and quite 
beyond the power of any woodcutter I know. I will think 
about it and write you more when I receive your second 
packet. Most truly yours, J. RUSKIN. 

F. J. Shields, Esq. 

If there is any question about expense in the cutting, 
I shall be most nappy to contribute towards having it 
done well. But I fear no money can get it done. 

The diary continues : 

"July 9th. Wrote seven page letter to Ruskin. 
Finished ' Robber Monk.' Altered ' Vanity Fair ' previous 
to having a new photograph taken. To Rawson's, got 2 
extra for ' Vanity Fair.' Thank God, what a relief. 

" Jvly 15th. Finished Charley Falkner's portrait. Mr. 
Falkner paid me. Put away all wood drawing apparatus. 
Arranged fruit to paint. Cleaned windows. Read 
Matt. 13th. 

"September. Wrote to the papers against the Hulme 
Wakes. Put figures into RothwelTs drawing. Mounted 




THE ROBBER SAINT 
Drawn on Wood for " Once a Week," 1861 



RUSKIN'S ADVICE 69 

paper. Went to Moseley to sketch, very threatening, 
but the rain kept off, and I made two pencil sketches of 
heather and gorse. Rained pell mell on the way to Staley 
Bridge. The wakes on there, too. Waited an hour for a 
train, got off at Ardwick and forgot my sketching stool. 
Rushed back, past 10, but no use, someone had taken it. 
Ruskin writes again : 

BOULOGNE, 3rd August 1861. 

DEAR MR. SHIELDS, I have not been ill ; but idle 
at least I was ill when I wrote you last, and have been 
resting since. The photo arrived quite safe but I have 
not been able to attend to any business since and really 
getting this drawing engraved is no small piece of business. 
I expect my assistant from London very soon now, and 
will consult with him and write to you. 

Nothing can be more wonderful than this drawing 
but I think your conception of Christian false Christian 
was no Puritan. 

I consider Puritanism merely pachydermatous Christi- 
anity, apt to live in mud. 

But you need study among the higher Italians you 
have been too much among the Northerners. Ever faith- 
fully yours, J. RUSKIN. 

Little did the great man know that the artist was 
starving in a mean lodging, living on a few shillings a 
week so that he might be able to devote himself to a task 
that fed his soul's desire. His entire expenses from March 
to July in this year exclusive of seven shillings a week 
for rent amounted to 4, 15s. 8d. about 5s. a week. 

Eventually " Vanity Fair " was engraved to the artist's 
complete satisfaction by Gaber, who reproduced so many 
of Richter's beautiful drawings. 

The wonderful Pilgrims Progress designs were pub- 
lished, to the artist's disappointment, not as originally 
intended, with the complete letterpress, but merely as a 



70 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

series of illustrations, bound as a thin volume, with brief 
quotations applying to the designs. In this year Frederic 
Shields also contributed several drawings on wood to 
Once a Week. At the end of the year he went back to 
Porlock to recruit the losses incurred during so long a 
period of ill-paid work, by returning to the water-colours, 
which always found a ready sale. He remained at Porlock 
during the whole of 1862, except for a week's visit to 
London in June, producing many exquisite pictures of 
rustic life in its most poetic aspect. Its picturesqueness 
was vanishing even then, improved means of transit and 
communication had already begun to infect the remotest 
country village with the latest and most hideous of town 
fashions. The delightful rustics in their smocks, the 
innocent-faced children scaring birds, the placid mothers 
in their sunbonnets, the old beehive-maker, the romantic 
miller's boy, the girl handing straw to the thatcher, 
these we shall see no more. 

The diary continues its record of work day by day : 
" January 9th. Rose at 6. W.P.B. Painted at small 
sketch of the Orphans. Made sketch of interior of cottage. 
To Luccombe, but on the way met with a girl keeping 
birds, so capital that I stopped at once, drew her until 
4. Home. Dined 7. Prayer meeting for Missionaries, 
America, Jews, Religious liberty in Europe and East, and 
the destruction of all anti-Christian error. Had elderberry 
wine at Mr. Brown's resolved to take no more. Decided 
to paint ' Hide a stick in a little hole.' " 

Copies of the Pilgrims Progress woodcuts were sent 
to Charles Kingsley, whose advice had been so helpful to 
the artist, and were acknowledged as follows : 

EVERSLKY RECTORY, WINCHPIBLD, 
January llth, 1862. 

MY DEAR MR. SHIELDS, Business has hitherto pre- 
vented my acknowledging your kind letter and the 



CHARLES KINGSLEY 71 

drawings. Now I have time to say, that I cannot suffi- 
ciently admire them. With strong individuality, and 
varied imagination, here is real beauty of form, without 
which I care for nothing. It seems to me that you are 
about to become one of the first designers in Europe, and 
I trust that you will spare no time or pains to make your- 
self such. I think the period which you have fixed is 
quite the right one. It may be a little late, but it is the 
Siecle Louis XIV., which endured through Cromwell's 
time also. It is " the world " against which Bunyan and 
George Fox testified. I hope to see and hear more of you. 
You must come down and see me here in the course of the 
Spring or Summer. Yours faithfully, 

C. KINGSLEY. 

"What Mr. Buskin says," alluded to in Kingsley's 
next letter, possibly refers to some theory expressed in his 
books, and not necessarily to any advice given to Frederic 
Shields personally, for though all Ruskin's letters appear 
to have been preserved, there are none between that of 
August 3rd and February 28th, when this next letter from 

Kingsley is written. 

EVERSLEY RECTORY, WINOHPIELD, 
February 28th, 1862. 

MY DEAR SIR, Don't mind what Mr. Ruskin says. He 
is too apt to "bind heavy burdens and grievous to be 
borne, and touch them not himself with one of his fingers." 
The plain fact is, God has given you a great talent, where- 
by you may get an honest livelihood. Take that as God's 
call to you, and follow it out. As for the sins of youth, 
what says the 130th Psalm ? " If Thou, Lord, were ex- 
treme to mark what is done amiss, who could abide it ? " 
But there is mercy with Him, therefore shall He be feared. 
And how to fear God I know not better than by working 
on the speciality which He has given us, trusting to Him 
to make it of use to His creatures if He needs us, and if 
He does not, perhaps so much the better for us. He can 
do His work without our help. Therefore fret not nor be 
of doubtful mind. But just do the duty which lies nearest 
which seems to me to be, to draw as you are drawing 



72 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

now. I showed your drawings to my friend Bennett, who 
lately illustrated the Pilgrim's Progress, and without 
rivalry or jealousy, he was astonished and delighted at 
them, and said he knew a great deal more excellent work 
of yours. Yours ever faithfully, C. KINGSLEY. 



"February 18th. So dark I could not work at Bird 
Keeper girl, so began crocus and withy. Difficulty in 
getting the purple colour did all in body colour. Walked 
too much uphill, hand shook on return. Had I carefully 
set to draw this withy with pen and ink, and then washed 
it, and touched on the lights, I should have done it better 
in half the time, learned more, strengthened my hand, 
and had something to keep for my pains. All this I have 
lost by hurry." 

In the first few months of this year, columns of the 
diary are ruled off and headed Work, Walk, Dine, Read, 
Study, Letters, Omissions. Under these headings the 
hours devoted to each subject are recorded, and the 
Omissions include such lapses from the strict routine he 
had mapped out, as " read newspaper half an hour longer 
than I ought," " stopped an hour instead of half an hour 
with Mr. Brown, very wrong, ought to have used that half 
hour for Sunday School lesson," " Slothfully stood half an 
hour before fire folly sleepy in consequence," " Coldness 
in prayer," "Painted ribbon three times over through 
carelessness." Mr. Brown, the same neighbour who sup- 
plied the elderberry wine after the missionary meeting on 
" religious liberty and the destruction of all Anti-Christian 
error," was the local clergyman. Shields interested him- 
self greatly in the Sunday school, which he mentions 
having found sadly neglected through lack of teachers. 
His friend, the Evangelical preacher in Manchester, had 
failed to persuade him to devote himself to preaching, but 
doubts evidently still occasionally entered his mind, which 



MORE ADVICE FROM RUSKIN 73 

the following letter from Ruskin surely did much to 

dispel : 

NOETHWICH, CHESHIRE, 
March 28th. 

MY DEAR SIR, I was away from home when your 
interesting letter came. No idea can be less justifiable 
than that you have of your own inferiority. I know no one 
in England who could have made that drawing of the 
Pilgrim's Progress but yourself. Even should you never 
be able to colour, you may perhaps be more useful, and 
if that is any temptation to you more celebrated, than 
any painter of the day. What you want is general taste 
and larger experience of men and things. I cannot re- 
commend you to pursue colour until I see some of your 
attempts at it. When you have leisure to set to work for 
a serious trial, I will send you anything you want of books, 
and a little bit of Hunt's to look at or copy, and we'll have 
a talk about it. Meantime, do put the idea of giving up 
art out of your head, as you would that of suicide, if it 
comes into it. I hope to be at home early next week. 
Most truly yours, J. RUSKIN. 

This letter is printed in the Life and Letters of John 
Ruskin with the date given as 1865, but as a matter of 
fact the original letter is not dated at all, and it is obvi- 
ously written in 1862, when Shields was in such doubt as 
to what to do next, and before he had met Ruskin. 

" May 1st. Began sketch of Carter's boy with baby. 
Painted boy in blue slop with pop-gun. To cottages to 
sketch backgrounds. To Mr. Floyd's, too much levity and 
griggishness. God forgive me. 

" May llth. Walked to Minehead down the quay and 
to the church. Sketched backgrounds." 

In June the diary is blank for a week, save for the 
words " week in London to see exhibitions." 

The water-colours painted at this time found ready 
sale, either to private collectors, or through his dealer 
friend in Manchester, John Rowbotham. Mr. Rowbotham 



74 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

was described in later years by Shields as " a man of 
sterling worth and simplicity of character, an upright 
Christian, a fair Greek scholar, and a leader in a little 
gathering of Plymouth Brethren. His wife overwhelmed 
me, then a lonely youth, with motherly kindness, and the 
elder daughter became a dear trusted friend, ever ready, 
in the business wherein she was her father's right hand, 
to speak in my interests with the wealthy buyers who 
frequented the shop." Many evenings were spent, when 
in Manchester, with the Rowbothams, and many ara the 
entries recording " Stayed too late at Rowbotham's after 
supper." Shields had numerous anecdotes of the picture- 
dealing trade in those days, he used to relate how Mr. 
Rowbotham attended a sale at a mansion some distance 
out of Bristol, and bought for a few shillings a large 
aquatint as he supposed obscured by a very dirty 
glass. The way to the railway station led by a muddy 
path, and in a storm of wind and rain the encumbrance of 
this large frame made him half inclined to cast it away. 
However, he struggled on, and it was duly put into the 
shop, where Frederic Shields saw it. One of Rowbotham's 
clients saw it, too, and suspecting it to be something other 
than was supposed, bought it for a small sum, and dis- 
covered, on removing the grimy glass, that he had a 
superb drawing by old Cousins, of the Tiber, with the 
Castle of St. Angelo for its dominant feature. Years 
passed by and Shields again saw the picture occupying a 
place of honour at the Grosvenor Gallery and a centre of 
interest in the Art world. Mr. Rowbotham's simplicity of 
character perhaps made him rather unfit to cope with some 
of his unscrupulous trade rivals. Shields had another story 
of how, in looking through the portfolios at the shop, he 
saw a brilliant study by William Hunt, of the vertical 
depth of a sand-pit, with a narrow slip of sky and a cottage 
seen above, evidently painted in pure delight of the golden 



PORLOCK 75 

colour, but utterably unsaleable. It long lay in the shop 
and then disappeared. Some time after, Rowbotham 
asked Shields his opinion of an oval drawing, a sprig of 
holly and a snail shell, which he had bought as a William 
Hunt. At a glance, Shields exclaimed that it was not 
Hunt's work, then on examining it, that the shell and 
holly were not Hunt's, and yet he could swear to the 
background being his. Then he asked Rowbotham what 
had become of the sand-pit study. "I exchanged it," 
said he, " with some other drawings, to a Birmingham 
dealer." " Then, my friend," said Shields, " it has come 
back to you with the forged holly and the shell added." 
Rowbotham had paid 60 for the drawing, but the Bir- 
mingham impostor gave way in fear and returned the 
money. 

To go back to the diary and Porlock. 

The country children were not always the most docile 
models. 

" July 31st Tried to paint baby in cart, only did a 
bit of its pinafore. Got Elizabeth at 11, obstinately lazy 
she was, could do nothing with her, gave up, fearful head- 
ache with the fight. Went for walk round Lord Love- 
lace's and back by the Linton Road. Visited the sick 
girl, Floyd. Read and prayed. 

" October 31st Rose 6.30. W.P.B. Got old Jan from 
9 to 11, only painted his hand in the time. Painted in 
piece of boat wreck until 1.30. Packed up traps to go 
back to Porlock. Terrible day to drive over Exmoor. At 
the bottom of the hill I was thrown out, the gig upsetting 
in the dark. A miraculous preservation. Let it make 
me thankful and watchful. ' In an hour when we think 
not.' Got a hearty tea and sat, much in pain, with four 
men who came from a day's hunting and had ordered a 
huge bowl of Punch. 

"November 1st. Rose 7.30, Very windy with fitful 



76 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

showers of rain. Went to Porlock Weir, but could do 
nothing for wind. Made a sketch on road back of some 
boys with boats, playing in stream. Made sketch of girl 
with fork and straw at thatching. Made sketches of ex- 
teriors until dusk. Had a glass of cider at a farmer's 
invitation. Read Ruskin. Mended books and arranged 
things. Prayer. Bed 10.30." 

Early in January 1863 he left Porlock with much 
regret at parting with his many humble friends there 
the two maiden ladies, the Misses Pulsford, with whom he 
had lodged, the hospitable vicar, to whom he had given 
much assistance with tjie Sunday school, and many 
another kindred spirit. 




THE DECISION OF FAITH 

Designs for Defoe's " Plague of London " (i) 

From the original study now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 



CHAPTER V 

Return to Manchester Sketching in Cumberland Designs for Defoe's 
Plague Visit to London William Hunt sale First meeting with 
Rossetti Madox Brown Butterworth and his landscapes Rossetti's 
first letter Description of "Vanity Fair" Ruskin again Charles 
Keene Finding Professor Scott, his father's cousin. 

THE house in Manchester had apparently been left empty 
while he was in Porlock, and the diary soon goes on much 
as before : 

" April IQth. Began Plague drawings. Got Huddle- 
stone for model. Traced Hogarth's Madhouse. Tried to 
paint at Beehive, very low and dull. Gave up. Studied 
Burnet's Education of the Eye. So foolish as to call on 
Gibbs after 10 last night, staid longer than I meant, as 
usual, and so slept an hour too late this morning. Lord, 
forgive my manifold offences." 

The diary is somewhat irregularly kept this year. A 
few weeks were spent at Walton, Cumberland, with his 
friend, Tom Rothwell. 

"Thursday, June 25th. Rose 6. W.P.B. To Mr. 
Pooley's. He bought drawing of Wood Boy, very kind. 
Promised I would call when I had another drawing. 
Finished Plague Stricken Field. Traced and began Dead 
Cart. Worked at Plague six hours. Wrote letters, But- 
terworth, Spottiswoode. Bed 11." 

A grim little note, written about this time by a medical 
friend, requested admission to a " dead-house " for " Mr. 
F. Shields, an artist who desires to sketch some bodies." 

" June 29#t. Traced Solomon Eagle." 

77 



78 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

This is considered one of the finest of his grand series 
of drawings for Defoe's Plague of London. A water- 
colour version of the same design is in the Manchester 
Art Gallery. 

The series of designs for the Plague of London, which 
drew such praise from Ruskin and Rossetti, were unfor- 
tunately, in the opinion of the artist, ruined in the cutting. 
He had the drawings on the wood photographed, and they 
are happily thus preserved, though very few copies of the 
photographs are now in existence. The book was pub- 
lished in a cheap, paper-covered series, entitled Laurie s 
Shilling Entertainment Library, engraved by Swain and 
Morton. The book is not in the British Museum, and is 
apparently not to be procured. The disappointment at 
the reproduction of these wonderful drawings probably 
finally decided Shields against doing any more drawings 
on wood, and made him return to his water-colours again. 
In January 1864 he is working at "Bo-Peep" and the 
" Girl with Pickel," from a sketch at Porlock. 

" January 2oth. Finished ' Boo.' To town. Sold 
it to Mr. Rawdon, 20. Looked for model, called at 
Agnew's, and Mitchell's. He showed me all Bradley's 
drawings what a reproof to my indolence and fastidious- 
ness. To Free Library, to collect costume, to Crozier's 
about dresses and armour. 

" January 29th. Got room cleaned. To look for old 
velvet frock at Knott Mill. Sold my Plague sketches to 
Mr. Barrett, 5." 

This entry is especially interesting. The final draw- 
ings, as already mentioned, were ruined by the engraver. 
At the Memorial Exhibition in London in the autumn of 

1911, all that could be shown was a set of photographs 
taken from the drawings on wood before cutting, kindly 
lent by Mrs. Fowler. A few months later, in January 

1912, these original sketches were discovered in a Man- 




SOLOMOX EAGLE 

Design for Defoe's " Plague of London " (2) 
From the original study now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 



MEETING ROSSETTI 79 

Chester sale-room. Two Manchester men (Councillor 
Butterworth and Mr. Roger Oldham) recognised them, 
and with fine public spirit surrendered their rights in the 
purchase to the Art Gallery Committee. 

"March l&th. Prepared new colour box. Study for 
' Cutting Loaf.' Tried coloured sketch for ' Turmit.' To 
train to see Sheffield flood. Back at 11. Safe. Thank 
my Heavenly Father. 

" March IQth. Sketch of Sheffield Flood. Touched up 
Plague photographs for Sir Walter James and Dr. White- 
head. Painted background of 'Cutting Bread.' Out to 
sketch cat at Booth's. Went to see poor old Stones. 
Ragged School 9. 

" March 28th. Models came. Worked at ' Playing 
Toys.' Finished ' Cutting Bread,' to town with it at 1. 
Mr. Salomons bought it 35, leaving me option of offering 
it to Agnew." 

In May 1864 he paid a memorable visit to London, 
and first met Rossetti. Apparently one object of this 
journey was to attend the sale at Christie's of William 
Hunt's sketches and pictures, some of which Shields 
bought for his friends Rowbotham and M'Connell, and 
one or two sketches he was able to purchase for himself, 
having been advised by Ruskin to study Hunt's colour. 

" May 13th. To Station by 9. Too early. By God's 
mercy preserved safe to London by 2.30. Straight to old 
Hunt sale. There till 6. Dined. Looked for lodgings, 
got very comfortable at 36 Norfolk Street, 

"May 14th. Rose 6. W.P. Out at 8. Breakfast at 
Coffee house. To see Swain. To old Hunt sale till 1. 
To National Gallery. To British Museum, made notes 
of Lycian Bas Reliefs. Tea Walked to City through 
Newgate. 

"May IQth. To Old Water Colour Society at 7.30 
until 12. To Christie's sale. Bought for Mr. M'Connell 



80 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

48, 10s., for Mr. Rowbotham 40, 10s., self 5, 5. To 
Armstrong's at 5. Went to see Mother's house, 39 Stan- 
hope Street. 

" Tuesday, llih. To Academy, National Gallery. 
Old Hunt's sale. To G. Butterworth, Thornton Heath." 

George Butterworth was originally a carpenter. He 
had been a student in Ruskin's classes at the Working 
Men's College, and was at one time Ruskin's assistant. 
This characteristic letter must have been written earlier 
in this year. 

6 CANTERBURY TEBBACE, THORNTON HEATH, 
LONDON, February 1th. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, When was it I heard from you 
last ? certainly not since the last time ! Has the iron of 
adversity entered so deep into your soul, or a plethora 
of success so obfusticated your mental vision tnat you 
cannot strain your eyes Croydonwards for a brief space, 
or is it only that, like Van Amburgh's lions, you refuse to 
roar without being poked up ? Well, now, consider vour- 
self poked up and roar accordingly. Roar an you like as 
Bottom the Weaver would have done as gently as any 
sucking dove, but roar, roar, roar ! ! J 

Are you ever coming to London again, or have you 
been and gone again, without the least intention of 
extending your journey to here? Answer me that, 

you ! ! ! It is astonishing how little I get to see of the 

Exhibitions now. I suppose if I were 200 miles away I 
should come up and see them all, but being so near you 
will at once understand how impossible it is to visit any. 

Well, now, what are you doing ? I am just managing 
to keep my head above water, and only just. I think I 
am improving in my work, however, I am at any rate 
commencing a new game a game that everybody else 
began long ago. I now keep my outdoor work to make 
clear and clean drawings from at the easel and find it very 
satisfactory. I am alas, however, occasionally bowled for 
want of a few eyes in my pictures, dots or figures, &c. 
Now I want to ask if I were to send down a few things 
occasionally, could you find time and inclination to do the 




DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN 

Designs for Defoe's " Plague of London" (3) 

From the original study now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 



AN AMUSING LETTER 81 

necessary ? I can always trust to your judgment and your 
work assimilates to mine in execution better than that of 
any of my friends who have hitherto obliged me. You 
have been a rare good fellow to me always in that respect, 
and I had nothing to repay you with but thanks, but now 
I should not permit that to suffice, and I can repay you in 
a way that you will, I think, have no compunction in 
according to. I have lately come into collusion with an 
old gentleman who stupidly took a fancy to a number of 
my things done within these last few years, and he raked 
out an old folio containing treasures and treasures ! Prout, 
De Wint, Girtin, Robson, Turner, John Lewis ! I Oh spare 
me and he was barbarous enough to barter some of these 
old musty things for my beautiful clean drawings ! Wasn't 
I an ass ! Well, never mind, I've sold some of them for 
a little more than I could have sold my own drawings for, 
and some I have not about a score or more. There are 
one or two among them would please you. I shall be 
happy, at any rate, to pay you in that way for what you 
do for me don't say nay. All my work now is about 
fifteen inches by ten in size, and is chiefly old ruins, 
churches, abbeys, castles, &c. If I have ever anything 
more important, such as commissions, I shall feel bound 
to pay you in coin. Now are you coming up, and when ? 
Remember we have a bed for you, no cock, nor sparrows 
now, go to bed at ten and oatmeal porridge for breakfast 

such as you get at ! ! 

Now roar! Mrs. Butterworth desires her kindest re- 
membrances to you. Thine faithfully, 

G. BUTTERWORTH. 

Some months later, Shields, as we have read, was in 
London, and his diary records a visit to G. Butterworth. 

" May 18th. With G. Butterworth to Old Hunt's sale 
at Christie's. Ordered packing of drawings. To T. 
Armstrong's. 

"May 19th. To National Gallery, copied Memling's 
' Holy Family ' to 4.30. To train 5, missed it. Went up 
Monument. Glorious scene. Croydon 20 to 7. Stayed 
with G. Butterworth. 

F 



82 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" May 2,0th. With Butterworth, put in his cows and 
figures until 7 P.M. Had a short conversation with him 
on Eternal things. Train to London at 9.30. Terrible 
Thunder storm." 

More than forty years later, in one of his loose sheets 
of notes, Shields wrote ; " Butterworth essayed in feeble 
fashion to paint landscapes, these he importuned me to 
enrich with figures, and, unwillingly, I yielded. I visited 
London in 1864, and hearing me express fervent admira- 
tion for Rossetti's designs, he told me that, through 
Ruskin, he was sufficiently acquainted with him to dare 
to introduce his lowly worshipper. Rossetti was then 
busy upon his David ; part of the triptych for Asaph 
Cathedral." 

Evidently the visit to Rossetti was made on the very 
day after he left Butterworth, for the diary records : 

"May 2lst. To Rossetti's studio. He painting his 
David. A great day for me, to be praised by him. Intro- 
duced to Sandys and Legros." 

The account written in later years continues : 

" Rossetti's graciousness of manner abides vividly with 
me. He left a small group of friends and drew me into 
an embrasure of the long room that was his studio, look- 
ing out upon the spacious back garden. Face to face, I 
felt such a sense of littleness as I have never experienced 
in contact with any man but himself. This, through the 
long years of intimacy that followed, never diminished 
but increased. With trembling I showed him a few 
designs, he expressing admiration that made me wonder. 
He accompanied me to the street door, and as we parted, 
I said something to the effect of the incompetency of my 
strivings never can I forget the impulsive generosity 
that responded ' Tut, tut, you design better than any of 
us, but cultivate your imagination.' His freedom from 
envy of any of his fellows, either in Art or Poetry, singled 




THE PLAGUE PIT 

Designs for Defoe's " Plague of London " (4) 
From the original study now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 



ROSSETTI'S FIRST LETTER 83 

him out. An introduction to Madox Brown followed, who 
said little to my work, and that wholesomely corrective of 
any feelings of elation." 

" May 23rd. To Sir W. James, Whitehall. To Madox 
Brown's. To National Gallery. 

" May 2bth. To Kensington, Study of Hogarth, studied 
antiques there ; to West Croydon with Butterworth. 

"May 2,8th. To Armstrong's, with him to Poynter's 
and Bridgewater Gallery. 

"June 4th. To Sir W. James, received commission 
for 100 picture. To Burne-Jones. Train to Manchester. 
By God's blessing safe home again at 7. To Rowbotham's. 
Bed 11.30. 

"June 1th. Mounted and packed three sets of photos 
of Plague drawings for Ruskin, Kingsley, and Rossetti." 

The following appears to be the first letter received by 
Shields from Rossetti. It accompanied a copy of his Early 
Italian Poets, inscribed, " To Frederic Shields, with friendly 
regards. D. G. Rossetti. 1864." 

16 CHEYNE WALK, CHELSEA, 
14th June 1864. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I should have answered your 
letter before, but had to send for the book, which has 
only just reached me. It goes with this, and as it is 
Dante's and other men's not mine I am happy in feel- 
ing sure that it is worth offering you. I should like much 
to have some day an opportunity of showing you various 
water-colour drawings I have made at different times 
from the Vita Nuova, but they are scattered in different 
hands. Perhaps I may yet do better ones from the same 
source if youth be not necessary to the illustrating as well 
as to the writing of such a book. I feel sure the book will 
be a new pleasure to you. 

Many thanks for your admirable designs, which others 
will enjoy here besides myself. When I see you again, I 
hope I may have some photographs of my own to offer 
you. Yours very truly, D. G. ROSSETTI. 

F. Shields, Esq. 



84 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

P. S. In Part I. of the volume, poems which I think 
would please you are to be found among those of Guido 
Guinicelli, Giacomino Pugliesi, Francesco da Barberino, 
and Fazio degli Uberti. 



"June 25th. Went down to Knott Mill Fair, back 
at 11. Worked at 'Turmit' and 'Spinning Wheel.' To 
Mr. Craven's to see his drawings, great pleasure. Writing 
out ' Vanity Fair ' description." 

" The period chosen for the illustration," wrote Shields, 
" is the middle of the reign of Charles the Second. First, 
because it is Bunyan's own time ; second, because never 
was the Fair in England brisker or more bravely attired. 
The two companion pilgrims are supposed to be torn 
asunder in the tumult. This favours the division of 
the subject into two heads, under which, and holding 
out their peculiar temptations to diverse minds, may 
be included all the wares and delights of this world. 
Christian, who was led astray by Worldly Wiseman at the 
outset of his pilgrimage, is here exposed to the snares of 
worldly honours, riches, and the indulgence of so-called 
refined tastes. Faithful, who was before tempted by 
Madame Wanton and the Old Adam, is shown, subject to 
the like trial here. Christian, with eyes averted heaven- 
wards, clutches fast that truth which he will not exchange 
for all the riches of the Fair. Then first, to Christian's 
right, the soldier offering military glory such as was then 
dispensed to the bloody Colonel Kirke, whose horrible 
barbarities in Somersetshire, and his flag's ensign, procured 
his ruffian soldiers the name of ' Kirke's Lambs.' Next to 
him, the Duke, advertising titles, honours, &c., and offer- 
ing for sale a patent of nobility. Behind him, the Lord 
Chancellor, displaying his placard, hung with bribes, and 
advertising lives, lands, &c. Above him, a Court Fool, 
elevated on a man's shoulders, having robbed Christian 



DESCRIPTION OF "VANITY FAIR" 85 

of his hat, indicates the world's estimate of the Christian 
pilgrim by crowning him with his own fool's cap and bells. 
Below, a courtier poet, dressed in the extreme of the 
fashion, proffers him the laurel crown. On the other side 
of Christian, a Bully Lawyer puffs tobacco smoke into 
his face. A Merchant, with his bale, cash bags, ledger, 
and tile of accounts, thrusts back the Tall Jockey (they 
were not light weights), who would press forward in the 
interests of the Turf. Next are the Jew Usurer and the 
Jeweller ; and immediately behind Christian a Trumpeter, 
who hopes to provoke a laugh at Christian's start from 
his rude alarm. Then is seen the Recorder of London 
in his fur cap offering civic honours ; while above the 
Merchant another holds up his book, and offers the 
services of a venal pen. Next to the Merchant, the 
University Dignitary, with cap doffed obsequiously proffers 
university honours ; and before him the Painter, enraged 
at Christian's refusal to so much as look on his unchaste 
picture of a classic amour. Next, a Sculptor, with a like 
lascivious group, and the Musician. Returning to the 
opposite side ; the foremost figures on the steps of the 
Royal Show are the King, with a tray like a pedlar, hung 
from and filling which are orders, spurs (knighthoods), 
field marshals' batons, warrants, pardons, &c., for sale. 
The King's Lady Favourite is receiving from the French 
Ambassador a bribe, a Jesuit backing up the transaction. 
A black Page supports her train, and turns to laugh at the 
cruel amusement of the dwarf, who pinches the spaniel's 
ear. The Little Lady below draws nearer to her the 
jewelled Star of the Garter, and the boy, bedizened in the 
mode, rides his hobby-horse like his elders. Above, a 
lady, disguised as a page, overtly receives a kiss from a 
Courtier. Higher, a Bishop and a Roman Catholic ecclesi- 
astic hand and glove together. Courtiers, ladies, and 
bullies crowd the steps up to the railed division ; beyond 



86 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

which bishops and collegians struggle for preferment; a 
noble above holding the archiepiscopal mitre for disposal. 
Mixed with these, and invited upwards by the Garter 
King at Arms, another set fight for the possession of 
coronets of all degrees a duchess handing down an Earl's 
coronet to some bidder. The Royal Crown itself is in 
front, guarded by the Yeomen, and ticketed at 800,000 
(Charles II is reported to have offered it to the Duke of 
Monmouth for that sum). Above, the Royal Show is 
hung with the Chancellor's bag, and other insignia of 
office, with the escutcheon of a member of the Royal 
Family, bearing the bar sinister. Beyond these is the 
Judges' seat, where the Butcher Jeffreys is receiving a 
bribe from a masked lady, his low companions carousing 
around him. This side being completed by the Theatre, 
with the crowd pouring in ; and another popular spectacle, 
the Gallows, decorated with three dangling figures. Nearly 
lost in the distant crowd is Faithful, with fingers in ears, 
and eyes shut against the words and charms of the women 
who mockingly pull him ; while one of their male com- 
panions crushes his hat over his face. Drunkards, one a 
woman, make the foreground of this group. Another has 
pawned all but his breeches at the sign above, linked in 
partnership with the Red Lion, for which the pawnbroker 
is the provider, as indicated by the jackal's head support- 
ing the three balls. An overturned stool, cards, and 
money, with the bloody knife among them, show how this 
play has ended. Above the half-naked drunkard is 
Hopeful, himself as yet a slave to vice, but moved with 
sympathy for Faithful, which is noted by the Mounte- 
bank, who turns to jeer him by pretending that he too is 
going to pray. From the balcony above a female is setting 
fire with a lighted torch to the Bible, which a halberdier 
has hoisted up for this end. A carriage going to a rout. 
A bombastic statue, in periwig and Roman armour, tramp- 



LETTER TO RUSKIN 87 

ling on the world. An auctioneer selling slaves (which 
was publicly done at this time in England). Dancing and 
other booths ; a Tailor's display ; a Rope Performer as 
Mercury descending ; and Temple Bar adorned with grisly 
heads ; the then new Cathedral of St. Paul's overtopping 
all." 

A rough draft of a letter dated June 5th, 1864, shows 
that Ruskin sent a message through Butterworth asking 
Shields to write to him, and explaining that only illness 
had prevented his writing further about the engraving of 
" Vanity Fair." Shields says that Ruskin had declined to 
recommend him to pursue colour until he had seen his 
attempts at it (referring evidently to his letter in March 
1862 ; but adds : " I think I might be able to send you 
one shortly if shame of the poor thing do not prevent me ; 
yet Rossetti, to whom I showed two unfinished drawings, 
did not disapprove of their colour." 

Whether this letter was sent to Ruskin we cannot say ; 
but the document goes on to mention that as Ruskin 
attached so much importance to William Hunt's work, he 
determined to possess something by him if opportunity 
ever served, and had therefore bought, at the sale of 
Hunt's sketches, a small study of a boy's head and a nude 
life study, both most powerfully painted. Shields mentions 
his own designs for Defoe's Plague of London, photographs 
of which he seems to have sent to Ruskin, explaining that 
they were slightly executed for the engraver's sake, as he 
was to receive little for cutting them. No other opportu- 
nity, he says, has been given to him for designing on 
wood ; but if it had, he would not have been eager to 
embrace it, so much does the work suffer in the reproduc- 
tion. " So I have been compelled to go on with colour draw- 
ings of rustic subjects, in which I have been so successful 
as always to sell ; my object being to gather a little money 
as a capital to fall back upon in the prosecution of more 



88 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

important works, the beginning of which is the execution 
of a drawing for which I have received the noble commis- 
sion of 100." 

This evidently refers to the commission from Sir Walter 
James. Ruskin replied with a warmly enthusiastic letter, 
in which he says : " I do not know any modern work which 
has impressed me with so much sense of a sterling, manly 
power of imaginative realisation as these Plague woodcuts 
of yours. They are quite magnificent. I shall feel it the 
merest and highest presumption to pretend to any power 
of guiding or advising you. A designer of your calibre 
can only do what he ought, and he only knows what he 
ought." 

Ruskin goes on to say that he may regret an artist's 
bias, " and I do regret yours to old Calvinism ; but one 
need not hope that it can be changed." He asks whether 
there is any chance of seeing Shields in London, where he 
might possibly help him a little in colour. 

In a much corrected copy of what was apparently a 
reply to the above, dated July 19th, Shields tells Ruskin 
that he prizes his approval above that of any living, 
and draws his breath deep and hard with emotion as he 
reads his letter over and over again each time with increas- 
ing wonder. He says : " Your strong words seem designed 
to encourage me, and I will carry them in memory, trying 
not to let my pride feed on them ; but to think This then 
is the deliberate given judgment of one whose judgment I 
most trust (on others' work). I will endeavour to act in 
reliance on it, and no longer doubting that God has given 
me a talent, only seek how I may best employ it to Him 
Who has given it." Shields goes on to say how difficult 
it is to decide what to do next, drawing on wood is dis- 
appointing in reproduction, and etching out of date ; he 
says he will come to London in October and bring some 
drawings, adding, " I would become a child under any one 




ESCAPE OF AX IMPRISONED FAMILY 

Designs for Defoe's " Plague of London " (5) 

From the original study now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 



RUSKIN AND COLOUR 89 

fitted to instruct me in colour." Whether this letter was 
sent to Ruskin or whether it was again rewritten, we 
cannot say ; but a little later Ruskin wrote : " I know 
well enough without looking at your painting that you 
can't paint, and have been wasting your time. No Puritan 
can paint, but also your drawing is all against it. But 
come up and show me." 

Ruskin did not know perhaps he never realised how 
sad had been the colour of Shields' early days, and how 
even apart from his depressing Calvinistic views the joy 
of life and the physical vigour of youth were spent in 
fasting and prayerful emotion and the weary struggle for 
a scanty subsistence. 

Later Ruskin says : " I am very anxious about your 
coloured work, and want to see it. I hope I may have 
been wrong about it." Finally, he sent a study of a her- 
ring by William Hunt for Shields to copy. In Mr. E. T. 
Cook's Life and Letters of John Ruskin occurs the follow- 
ing : " Mr. Ruskin," says Mr. Shields, " sent a fresh herring 
in water-colour by William Hunt, of exquisite colour ; and 
I had the reward, when I took it and my copy to him 
at Denmark Hill, of hearing him say, ' Well, if you had 
brought back your copy and retained the Hunt, I should 
never have known the difference.' This settled the ques- 
tion of my eye for colour, hitherto in doubt." 

The diary continued : 

"August 19th. The skeleton came; obliged to re- 
arrange room in consequence. Drew old ragman ; enlarged 
the girls. Jane came to sit ; very naughty ; no work till 
3 o'clock. Much upset in my work by accordion next 
door." 

The Ragman refers to a picture called " Desire is 
Stronger than Fear." This was one of the pictures which 
won the artist admission to the Old Water-Colour Society. 

" September 13th. Sought out my diaries for eight 



90 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

years past. What a review ! Worked at William Gibbs' 
portrait. Katie sat for hair ; made a mess of it. To Knott 
Mill Fair with Laresche to buy old clothes." 

The annual fair at Knott Mill, held on the site of the 
camp of Agricola, said to have been named from the Mill 
of Canute and to date from the days of Henry III, was in 
later years described by Shields as " My annual sketching 
festival, rich in character never seen but at those old fetes, 
where WombwelTs Menagerie vied in attraction with the 
strolling players who strutted upon the platform in paste- 
board armour and conventional robber costumes. In my 
early days I made acquaintance with Hanlon, father of 
the Hanlon brothers, gymnasts, afterwards famous on 
London boards. Their kindness to me during a sore crisis 
of my being deserves grateful remembrance. I tried to 
return it by designing a large poster for them." 

Many years later in 1893 he painted Knott Mill 
Fair, his largest realistic oil-painting, a replica of an earlier 
water-colour, using many old costumes and properties 
which had actually been purchased at the fair in those 
early days. 

" October 14th. To fruit market. Tried arrangements 
for fruit picture. Painted purple grapes. Wrote Charles 
Keene." 

He had met Keene in London, and evidently sent 
him photographs, probably of the Pilgrim's Progress, 
about this time, which Charles Keene acknowledges : 

55 BAKER STREET. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Many thanks for your noble present. 
I need not say how highly I prize it, intrinsically as an 
artist and proudly as a pledge of remembrance of the 
kindly donor. I wish I had some work of my own I could 
feel more worthy to offer you in return. I shall hope I 
may some day. I don't despair of seeing more of your 




THE END OF A REFUGEE 
Designs for Defoe's " Plague of London " (6) 

From the original study now in the Art Gallery, Manchester 



CHARLES KEENE 91 

work of the same kind if the publishing world are not lost 
to all sense of taste. 

I hope you will look me up whenever you are near 
here if you come to town. 

Remember me to our friend, Tom Armstrong, when 
you see him. And believe me, yours very sincerely, 

CHARLES S. KEENE. 

A letter from Rossetti, dated October 23rd, 1864, 
says : 

" I feel quite as neglectful as you can and more so, 
not having yet answered your kind note accompanying 
the translation of Solomons Song. My simple motive if 
not excuse for the delay has been that, having little eye- 
sight to spare after my day's work for reading, I have not 
yet looked into it in any decided way. However, I still 
fully intend to do it justice. 

" Thanks for your intimation of W. Craven's wish to 
possess a drawing of mine. It happens I have one just 
nearly finished whose disposal is vet undecided. 

" I may perhaps drop him a line on the matter, as you 
have given me his address, this seeming the most direct 
plan and avoiding further trouble to you. The subject of 
my drawing is ' Joan of Arc.' Many sincere thanks for the 
photos, which I am sure will be as widely admired as the 
others have been." 

Rossetti's letter acknowledging the Pilgrim's Progress 
was friendly and encouraging. 

16 CHEYNE WALK, CHELSEA, 
December 4<A, 1864. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Many warm thanks for your 
" Pilgrim " with its generous inscription, of which I can 
only say that, taken in conjunction with the volume, it 
makes me feel astoundingly undeserving. I imagine you 
have published these designs thus separately in order to 
get some justice done them in the printing, as they have 
appeared (have they not ?) in an edition of the Progress. 



92 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

My favourites are still " Christian reading " (in which the 
idea of the crumpled burden shaping itself into a death's 
head is in admirable keeping with the spirit of Bunyan) 
" Sloth," " Simple," &c. (unusually well cut), " Mercy 
Fainting" (ditto), and (for its great completeness) the 
"Good Shepherd," though I have always thought that 
this subject would be more properly rendered by giving 
to the Symbolical personation of Christ the character and 
costume of an actual shepherd rather than an uncertain 
and somewhat conventional drapery. "Vanity Fair" is 
an amazement to me, and an envy to my eyesight, though 
seeming to me to belong less to the highest class of design 
than some others. I ao not see in the description any 
reference to the Banner of the Lamb surmounted by a 
severed human head, but presume that this probaoly 
symbolised corrupted Christianity. The " Hills Difficulty" 
and " Caution " are very perfect in style for the material. 
If you will allow me also to name tne one I like least, I 
should fix on " Moses and Faithful," which seems to me 
too incongruous an idea to bear embodiment in a picture. 
Very tine as many of these designs are, I think there is 
immense progress especially as regards power of striking 
execution in the designs to Defoe's Plague. It is most 
fortunate that you had these preserved, as you drew them, 
by photography. I hope I may see you soon, and am 
meanwhile and ever, yours very sincerely, 

D. G. ROSSETTI. 



Shields was so dissatisfied with the woodcuts of this 
Plague series, that he gave his friends not copies of the 
book, but sets of the photographs from the drawings on 
the wood before cutting. The diary continues : 

"December Gth. With Butterworth to look out 
lodgings. To Mr. Ruskin's lecture. 

"December Wth.To Butterworth's until 10.30, put 
boats into his drawing. Mary came. Visited poor old 
Stones. Made his bed. 

" December 17 th. To Professor Scott's, discovered that 
he was indeed my father's cousin." 



PROFESSOR SCOTT 93 

Frederic Shields wrote, many years after, the story of 
his visit to the Scotts in these words : 

" I had always known that my father had a cousin, a 
Professor in London University, who had left him un- 
answered when he wrote to him during his last illness. 
When Ruskin came to Manchester to give his lectures on 
' King's Libraries,' &c., he stayed with Professor A. J. Scott, 
of Owens College, at Halliwell Lane, Higher Broughton. 
Robert Crozier, his son George, William Hull, and others 
had put into Ruskin's hands examples of their work for 
his criticism, and I was deputed to call for these drawings, 
as I knew Mr. Ruskin slightly. On the morning of his 
departure I was at Professor Scott's house early, and was 
told by the servant that Mr. Ruskin had left by an earlier 
train than he originally proposed. I, who had hoped to 
hear some expression of opinion about my friends' works, 
was turning away, when I heard a sweet female voice from 
the stair landing enquire if some one had called for Mr. 
Ruskin, and I was asked in to stand before a presence that 
won fullest confidence at a glance. I told my errand. 

" ' The drawings are here ; Mr. Ruskin has been de- 
lighted with them. Are you one of the artists?' 'No.' 
' Then what is your name ? ' I gave it. The lady started, 
and with a strange light in her eyes said, ' What was your 
father's name ? ' ' John Shields.' With loving impulse 
she drew me near to her, and kissed my brow, while the 
tears started to her eyes as she told me how, when my 
father's letter had reached them, they were in the throes 
of removal from London, and how, over and over again, 
she had hunted persistently for it, lost in the confusion, 
without success. How they had grieved sorely, as they 
conceived how pained my dear father must have been at 
his cousin's apparent disregard and then last, she exulted 
that I was found, on whom to pour out the long pent 
kindness. 'And now I must go and tell my husband.' 



94 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

I was left, I, who had no relative in broad England, a 
lonely, unattached being, astonished under this strange 
uncovering. And then, wrapped in a grey Scotch plaid 
for warmth, for he was already failing in health, there 
entered the room alone he whom I was so anxiously 
expecting. The portrait that I afterwards drew of that 
noble head is the best witness of how he impressed me. 
He clasped my hands in silence, looking piercingly through 
me, and then asked me to sit down and tell him of my 
father's illness and death, and my own life since. As I 
recounted all my sister's death, my father's, my mother's, 
my two younger brothers', and my own stern struggles 
with nakedness and starvation, he broke in with strong 
emotion : ' I cannot bear to hear it ; tell me no more.' 
I less walked than danced my way back to Hulme in 
an ecstasy of unspeakable emotions. Not many months 
after that Professor Scott was taken away for change to 
Switzerland, and while I was at Porlock a letter reached 
me from Mrs. Scott that told me of the great bereave- 
ment. Many of the present generation know the worth of 
character of his only son, J. A. Scott afterwards my firm 
and noble friend." 

To return to the diary of 1864. On the day after the 
eventful interview with Mrs. Scott, the entry runs : 

"December l$th. To Mr. Muckley's, painting Dr. 
Crompton's boy. To Professor Scott's at 5 until 10 met 
the Winnington pupils." 



CHAPTER VI 

Visiting the sick Sketching Rossetti's " Hesterna Rosa" Offer from 
William Morris & Co. Alexander M'Laren The Snow Picture 
Farewells Elected to the Old Water-Colour Society Winnington 
Hall London again Illustrated, London News Ruskin at Denmark 
Hill C. H. Bennett Swinburne Simeon Solomon Sam Bough's 
letter The " Nativity " design Street music. 

IN 1865 the diary continues: 

"January 4th. To sketch snow. Victoria Station. 
Guard says No Snow. Not go. Back. Wesley design. 
To-day Joe Waring brought me the news of Jane Hoyle's 
death and of her father's on the same day. Have mercy 
on this foolish people, Lord, and let them take warning. 
And on me, to-day if Ye will. Thou Whose throne is 
Heaven, Whose footstool Earth, Thou awful God, have 
mercy for Thy Son's Sake." 

Jane Hoyle and her father were apparently among the 
poor folk in the neighbourhood who were regularly visited 
and prayed with by Shields and his fellow-workers at 
the Ragged School. 

In Mr. William Rossetti's volume of Rossetti Papers 
he publishes the following letter, which was evidently 
written in reply to Rossetti's letter of December 4th. 
The picture referred to is the water-colour "Hesterna 
Rosa." It was the first of several purchased by Mr. 
Craven, an early friend and patron of Shields in Man- 
chester. Mr. Craven's collection then consisted of a fine 
group of David Cox's and a number of Fred Taylor's, 
and Absolom's. At the suggestion of Shields, he asked 
Rossetti to paint a water-colour for him, and this led to 

95 



96 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the formation of his noble collection of water-colours by 
Rossetti, Madox Brown, and Burne-Jones, eventually 
dispersed at Christie's. 

50 RUSSELL STBEET, HULME, MANCHESTER, 
January 9th, 1865. 

MY DEAR SIR, On Friday last I saw the "Hesterna 
Rosa." What a blaze of glory I received as my first 
impression. . . . And I am not alone in this. Mr. Craven 
said, " I wrote very little more than an acknowledgment 
to Mr. Rossetti, for I was afraid that, if I attempted to 
write what I felt, it would appear fulsome." . . . 

I was astonished that you should have dwelt so care- 
fully on my designs in the book as your remarks made 
evident. I know the "Moses and Faithful" is a sad failure, 
but I cannot lay the blame on the unfitness of the sub- 
ject for pictorial treatment. I think I could do it very 
differently now for I feel the truth Bunyan would here 
convey better than I did when I made that design. I 
think it might be made so much of by one who could 
do it rightly. I also quite agree with you that it would 
have been better to have made the " Good Shepherd " in 
actual Shepherd's dress ; but one can only bear to think 
of the oriental Shepherd in such connection, and this 
would have necessitated Syrian sheep, about which I 
know nothing; so that I thought it better to keep to 
my English sheep, and the old conventional rdle. You 
credit me with too much thought and intention when you 
suppose that I meant the lamb on the banner in the 
" Vanity Fair " to have any deeper motive than a reference 
to the ensign of that bloody mercenary of James II 
Colonel Kirke who so cruelly murdered, the poor Somer- 
setshire peasantry after Monmouth's insurrection. It is 
one of their heads that I suppose to surmount the pike 
of the flagstaff. Colonel Kirke seemed to me to supply 
a figure of that military life which seeks only its own 
emolument or glory at the price of the blood and tears 
of thousands. I should not like to be thought to make 
Christian turn his back on the soldier altogether not 
whilst I remember men like Gardener and Havelock. . . . 
Ever most truly yours, FRED. J. SHIELDS. 



MORRIS AND CO. 97 

To this letter Rossetti replied : 



16 CHETNE WALK, CHELSEA, 
1 Ith January 1865. 

My DEAR SHIELDS, Thanks for your letter. I am 
extremely pleased that my drawing of "Hesterna Rosa" 
should find so much favour with you. Mr. Craven had 
already expressed to me his satisfaction with it, and I judge 
from what you say that it does not lose in his esteem on 
better acquaintance, which gratifies me to know. I trust 
before long to be able to write him word of some larger 
work in hand, according to what you say, if you think his 
wish sufficiently definite to justify my doing so. At present 
I have several engaged pictures in progress which pre- 
occupy me, but I trust not for long. If Mr. Craven were 
equally willing to have a work in oil instead of water- 
colour, that material is the one I prefer for larger things, 
indeed I have never employed water-colour, except on a 
small scale. I had intended to write before this to say 
that, according to your wish, I spoke to my brother about 
noticing the " Pilgrim." Unfortunately, though he admires 
the work as much as I do, and would have been very 

glad of a chance of saying so, the only paper which might 
ave been open to him for the purpose (the Reader) 
he found, on enquiry, had already said something of the 
designs I believe very inadequately in his opinion. 
Should any other opportunity oner, he will avail himself 
of it, 

I have been asked by a firm with which I am con- 
nected (Messrs. Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.) to ask 
you whether you would be willing to furnish them some- 
times with designs for stained glass. The firm has now 
existed for some years, and includes in its Company 
several artists, whose names you know, and indeed them- 
selves in some instances, viz. : Madox Brown, E. B. 
Jones, and myself. " We " are stained glass manufacturers, 
and decorators of all kinds, at 8 Red Lion Square. The 
original plan was for all designs to be made by members 
of the firm ; but the partners concerned are so occupied 
always with their pictures that it is often impossible, 
for long intervals, that they should work for the firm, 

G 



98 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

and it would be highly serviceable if the managers could 
rely on aid from without sometimes. Our endeavour has 
been to make all our work more truly artistic than such 
work has been hitherto. We have an admirable colourist, 
William Morris, who gives his whole time to the work 
of the firm, and all that is needed in the design is the 
drawing the colour rests with him. Would you enable 
me to give him, as manager, an answer to the above 
question? The payment for designs would, I should 
think, be about equal to that for wood-blocks, but he 
would communicate with you if you are able to entertain 
the idea. Believe me (still in hopes of seeing you), very 
sincerely yours, D. G. ROSSETTI. 

The idea of designing for glass did not commend itself 
to Shields. In the next letter from Rossetti, dated 
February 10th, after some reference to Mr. Craven and 
his desire for a larger picture, he says : " I rather thought 
that in all probability your engagements would prevent 
your entertaining Mr. Morris's wish about designing 
stained glass for him, but thought it better to ask you, 
as he desired it." 

"January 16th. To Town Hall to sketch Executive 
Committee for M'Lachlan. To Rev. A. M'Laren, not in." 

It was in this month that he was introduced to the 
Rev. Alexander M'Laren, by a Mr. Richard Johnson of 
Fallowfield. M'Laren became his life-long friend and 
they corresponded until his death in 1910. 

In February 1865, Frederic Shields was elected a 
member of the Old Water-Colour Society. 

"February 3rd. Worked at drawing for Rowbotham. 
Packing up for Old Water-Colour Society. Reading 
Oriental books for Beatitude." 

Apparently he had arranged for some one at Burton 
to let him know when there was a fall of snow there, 
which it was necessary for him to sketch for his picture. 

"February 14th. Touched up Whaite's sketch till 



ROSSETTI AND EXHIBITIONS 99 

11. Letter to go to Burton. Started. Walked from 
Camforth. Got to Burton at 5.15. 

"February 15th. Out to sketch snow, failed to find 
what I want. Feet cold and wet, water frozen at my side." 

The next three days were spent in much the same 
way. 

" February 17th. Out to snow again, and got done 
at 3. Left dear Bentham and his wife at 4. Safe 
home by 8." 

Rossetti wrote : 

" Thanks for your letter. If anything decided occurs 
to me on the subject in question, I will write to Mr. Craven. 
In any case I shall be glad to see him when in town. 

" It is capital hearing that you have been elected into 
the Old Water-Colour Society. I hope you do not suspect 
me of any pigheaded or antagonistic notions as to the 
natural ways of coming before the public. I simply found 
in youth that the worry of getting ready for exhibitions 
was unsuited to my disposition, and also with rather mis- 
placed pride (at that age) refused to submit any work to 
the Academy, which I considered (not untruly) unfair in 
its practices. I have therefore no personal cause of com- 
plaint against them, for I have never sent them a work. 
In after life I have adhered to my plan of non-exhibition, 
because I think it is well to adopt early a plan of life, and 
not lose time afterwards in giving second thoughts to it. 
It has come right with me more so, perhaps, than I 
could expect. But I think that competition and appre- 
ciation are among an artist's best privileges, and congra- 
tulate you on securing them." 

Shields now made preparations to leave Manchester 
for London, whether with a view to making it his per- 
manent home, or merely for a visit, is not quite clear. 

"March 14th. Model disappointed me. Bentham 
came, went to Mr. Rawson to see if I could get my money 
for picture to lend Bentham 14. Worked at Beatitude. 



100 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" Wednesday 15th. To see Mr. Rawson got 30 from 
him. Lent Bentham 14. Lunch. Bentham sat for 
Beatitude. Prepared lesson and bade adieu to my dear 
lads, who presented me with a copy of A. M'Laren's ser- 
mons. Bed at 11. Never slept from excitement. 

" March VJth. To town with E. Gibbs to get his photo- 
graph taken. Called on Craven and Falkner. Our fare- 
well meeting at Ormond Street. A most precious night 
in some respects, the good of which will, I trust, stick by 
me as long as I live. Bed at 12." 

The farewells seem to have been somewhat prolonged, 
for a month later the diary records: "Very affectionate 
farewell from Mr. Falkner, very, very kind." 

In April, being still in Manchester, he frequently visited 
Professor Scott. 

"April Wth. To Winnington Hall with Mrs. Scott, 
to meet Mr. Ruskin." 

Winnington Hall, and its Principal, Miss Bell, were 
destined to long retain their influence over Frederic 
Shields. Forty years later he thus described his first 
visit : " Winnington well deserved its name, a house full 
of beautiful rooms, the chimney pieces of Italian work 
exquisitely carved, fine casts and engravings everywhere, 
many of Mr. Ruskin's most finished drawings of Venetian 
architecture, &c., together with a noble collection of 
minerals, all Mr. Ruskin's loans or gifts. He himself 
giving lectures or lessons on his visits there his ' Ethics 
of the Dust' was prepared for the Winnington pupils. 
There was a fine library, rich in works upon Art, and 
beautifully wooded and extensive grounds bordered by 
the river Weaver, rendered always musical by the fall of 
its weir. Into this Eden I was introduced, a shy, bashful 
fellow, alone in the presence of many ladies, for I suppose 
there were usually seventy girls of varied ages being edu- 
cated there, with their unique advantages." 



WINNINGTON HALL 101 

No doubt the young artist felt shy and awkward in 
these novel surroundings, but he soon won approval by 
his sketches of some of the beautiful young pupils. He 
used to say that he profited as much by the instruction of 
the Principal, Miss Bell, as did any of the pupils, for this 
was only the first of many visits, and the beginning of a 
long, though not unbroken, friendship. It is interesting 
to compare the description of Winnington given by Mr. 
Ruskin in a letter to his father a few years earlier, quoted 
by Mr. Cook in his Life of Ruskin. He says : " This is 
such a nice place that I am going to stay till Monday : 
an enormous, old-fashioned house, full of galleries up and 
down stairs, but with magnificently large rooms where 
wanted, the drawing-room a huge octagon I suppose at 
least forty feet high like the tower of a castle, hung half- 
way up all round with large and beautiful Turner and 
Raphael engravings, and with a baronial fireplace; and 
in the evening brightly lighted, with groups of girls 
scattered round it, it is quite a beautiful scene in its 
way. . . . The house stands in a superb park, full of old 
trees and sloping down to the river, with a steep bank of 
trees on either side ; just the kind of thing Mrs. Sherwood 
likes to describe; and the girls look all as healthy and 
happy as can be, down to the little six-year-old ones, who, 
I find, know me by the fairy tale, as the others do by my 
large books, so I am quite at home." 

Strangely enough, many years later, Miss Bell, having 
fallen upon evil days, was teaching a little girl a name- 
sake of hers, though no relation then little more than a 
six-year-old herself. Daily the old lady came, giving the 
child interesting desultory instruction, chiefly in painting 
and nature study, the latter then almost unrecognised as 
a part of the school curriculum. The little girl now re- 
members little of the subjects of the lessons, except that 
they included very careful and minute drawings of budding 



102 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

twigs it must have been in the spring-time carefully 
set up in bottles containing sugar and water, and while 
the pupil painted Miss Bell would read long extracts from 
Ruskin with great earnestness. But one thing the little 
girl (who happens to be now the present writer) remem- 
bers the lessons must have sunk deep into her childish 
heart, for Miss Bell having found a better post to teach a 
nobleman's children in Russia, the child was sent to a 
very ordinary school, where, from her spirited arguments 
with the somewhat unenlightened painting mistress, to 
whom she impertinently quoted her great authority, she 
was nicknamed " Little Miss Ruskin." 

Lady Burne-Jones, also a visitor at Winnington, says 
in her book, Memorials of E. Burne-Jones : " Miss Bell 
was an extremely clever woman, of a powerful and master- 
ful turn of mind, evidently understanding that Ruskin 
was the greatest man she had ever seen, and that she 
must make the utmost of the intimacy he accorded her 
and the interest he took in her school." Their intimacy 
terminated sadly many years later, and it may be said 
that the fault was not on Mr. Ruskin's side. But in the 
case of Frederic Shields the friendship only ended with 
his visits to Miss Bell during her last hours of life. 

In April 1865 Shields made his first appearance at the 
Old Water-Colour Society, and the Illustrated London 
News thus describes his contributions : 

" Mr. Shields has a provincial reputation, but had 
scarcely been heard of in London. His election a short 
time since is said to have surprised the artist himself; it 
will, however, have a very different effect upon everyone 
else. All his four drawings are small or of very moderate 
size, and their subjects are of the humblest. One is 
called ' Eleven o'clock A.M.,' and represents a cottager's 
daughter, a strapping girl of ten or twelve, cutting with 
a will the huge luncheon slice of bread and butter; 



THE OLD WATER-COLOUR SOCIETY 103 

another is ' The Baby-cart,' a third ' The Pop-gun/ and 
the last is entitled ' Desire Stronger than Fear ' two 
children timidly approaching an old pedlar, tempted by 
his basket of sweetmeats and gaily coloured paper wind- 
mills, yet terrified by his portentously ragged, grizzly, 
hirsute appearance, and possibly in mortal fear of the 
sack with which he is swathed, and into which they may, 
recalling some nursery legend, think his encouraging 
smiles are only designed to inveigle them. Humble, we 
say, as are the subjects of these drawings, they have rare 
and true qualities of art. We have no hesitation in saying 
that for happy rendering of character and more espe- 
cially of natural action, gesture, and expression there 
are portions in them which will bear comparison even 
with such a master in similar subjects as Wilkie; and 
that there is nothing so good, exactly of their kind, in 
the exhibition. What can surpass the hungry eagerness 
of that girl with the loaf, or the impish delight of that 
boy, with his knees so strenuously clamped together, at 
having just discharged his pop-gun at the little frightened 
fellow he has persuaded or compelled to kneel before 
him to be shot ; or the inviting grin of the old cadger, 
and the alarm of the child clinging to his elder sister's 
back?" 

On July 17th Shields was again in London, studying 
Titian and Veronese in the National Gallery. He saw 
Ruskin on more than one occasion, and several kindly 
letters from him, undated, but evidently written at this 
time, are preserved. In one Ruskin says : " You may 
come whenever you like, and as often as you like." 
Again 

"You've just one thing to do to take care always 
and first of your bodily health amuse yourself and see 
the best work while you are in London. All this you 
must do or you'll be getting on the wrong road 



104 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

and for you the wrong road would mean Miching 
Malecho." 

The diary, irregularly kept, continues : 

"July 20th. To see Mr. Ruskin at 12.30, then to 
C. H. Bennett. Home at midnight." 

His friendship with C. H. Bennett lasted until the end 
of that artist's too brief career. This was their first meeting, 
but his work had long been known to Shields, first through 
Bennett's series of etchings for the Pilgrims Progress. He 
had wandered through London streets seeking for heads 
that suggested the personages of Bunyan's Allegory. It 
was reading the preface to this edition that led the 
young Shields to write to Charles Kingsley for advice 
about his own project of representing the characters and 
incidents in the costume and surroundings of Bunyan's 
time, instead of with the ideal dress and features of 
Stothard's lovely designs. 

Drayton Grove, South Kensington, was now Shields' 
home for many months. Here he renewed acquaintance 
with Robert Collinson, an old fellow-student in Man- 
chester, and his wife, and owed much to their generous 
friendship; in this year also, he first met Mr. Arthur 
Hughes, whose friendship in after years was very precious 
to Shields. 

" August 3rd. To see Rossetti 12. To Museum, drew 
' Young Hercules.' C. H. Bennett called, a very happy 
evening with him, looking at Tintoret prints, &c. 

" September 20th. To Museum till 10. Began 'Nativity ' 
design. To see Jones, met Swinburne." 

This meeting was described in later years. " My first 
sight of Swinburne was at a reception at Burne-Jones's 
house. I saw an impenetrably close knot of listeners 
gathered round some central point of interest what or 
who was it ? A mass of rich auburn hair leaped up for a 
moment, disappeared and reappeared indicative of some 



SAM BOUGH 105 

excitable being pouring forth unseen. This I afterwards 
learned was Swinburne." 

" September 30th. Rossetti called. ' Nativity,' study 
of old man's hands. To E. Poynter, Simeon Solomon and 
Armstrong." 

For the work of that ill-fated genius, Simeon Solomon, 
Shields always expressed the greatest admiration. At 
this period he was advising his Manchester friend, Mr. 
Johnson, to purchase some chalk drawings by Solomon, 
who wrote a friendly letter of thanks. In after years, 
when nearly at the end of his tragic career, Shields came 
across him again, and would again have befriended him, 
had it been possible. 

The diary is now very irregularly kept, but evidently 
some other exhibition was pending, either in London or 
Manchester, for which the early water-colour, bought by 
Sam Bough, was desired. 

CHAMBEBS, 2 HILL STREET, 

EDINBURGH, 20th October 1865. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Surely you can have the drawing 
to exhibit. Where is it to be sent to and when ? 

I was very ill nearly all the time I was in London 
couldn't tell what was the matter with me, but found out 
when I got home that it was Chronic Bronchitis, and from 
that cause you must perceive that I was in no condition to 
go anywhere. This has been a miserable summer with 
me, I have done nothing, but must now stick in and try 
what I can for the winter Exhibition here. I hope you 
have been well. I can't tell you how much pleased I was 
to hear of your success, and I am very sure that there is 
still greater luck in store for you. I can't make up my 
mind to leave Scotland. I have been here too long to 
like going, and, though I detest the people and wouldn't 
cry if the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah overtook the 
blasted lot, I can't easily hook it. If I came to London, 
I am pretty certain to fall into the Theatre again, and that 
my wife won't hear of. 



106 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Bradly was here two or three days ago ; he is making 
some drawings down at St. Menace, on the Fife coast ; he 
had been in the Highlands, and I saw his sketches, very 
good they are he is a clever chap and will do well. 
C. H. Mitchell has been down in Scotland also, but I 
didn't see him. B. said he was ill the whole time he 
was here. 

I shall be glad to have the photo from Duval, I expect 
the dear old boy down here shortly. With all good 
wishes, I am, my dear Fred, yours very faithfully, 

SAM BOUGH. 



The " photo from Duval " may perhaps refer to a 
photograph of the beautiful "Nativity" design, which 
was made at the request of Mr. Duval, a portrait painter, 
" for the frontispiece of a volume of poems by a widow 
lady whom he desired to serve." It was, for some reason, 
never used for its original purpose, though Duval 
expressed himself as being delighted with it. It is 
undoubtedly one of the artist's finest designs, quite unlike 
anything hitherto produced ; it marks the commencement 
of an entirely different period of the development of his 
genius. 

On receiving the drawing, Shields evidently wanted to 
touch it up, and also wished to know whether Bough 
would like it to be priced in the catalogue of the exhibi- 
tion. Bough replies November 4th : " Let me say that I 
am perfectly satisfied with the drawing as it is, and I would 
really advise you not to touch it. State any price you like 
hi the catalogue, but let me beg you not to sell it, I 
wouldn't part with it for any money unless such parting 
was to do you a service, and then, my dear Shields, you 
are welcome to it." This must have been the drawing 
exhibited at the Manchester Shields Exhibition in 1875, 
catalogued as " In Mother's Absence ; Somersetshire, 
1865," lent by Sam Bough, " The Artist's first Commission." 




THE NATIVITY 
(1865) 



RETURNS TO MANCHESTER 107 

The diary is blank for October and November, but 
shortly after the completion of the " Nativity " design he 
returned to Manchester, driven away from London by the 
incessant organ-grinding and street music, and in October 
he was at work on the portrait of Professor Scott at his 
house in Halliwell Lane. 



CHAPTER VII 

Porlock revisited Return to London The Old Water-Colour Society 
James Holland's generosity Bands, organs, nerves Sandgate 
Boulogne Military pictures Chelsea C. H. Bennett's death 
Raskin's help Manchester again The old house at Cornbrook Park 
Rossetti's letters Madox Brown and the condemned Fenians 
Warwick Brookes. 

EARLY in December he returned to Porlock, rejoicing to be 
again in that romantic region, where he could paint rustic 
cottages, picturesque fishermen and their surroundings, 
and the dear, troublesome country children, who figure so 
vividly in these early pictures. He remained there until 
April, when the diary records: " Left Porlock with much 
sorrow." 

The months at Porlock were always a happy memory 
to Shields. All the peasantry knew him, and there were 
few dwellings into which he was not welcomed ; he visited 
the sick, taught the children in the Sunday School, and 
made friends with some of the fine old fishermen. Doubt- 
less this visit did much to restore his nerves after the 
distractions of London life. He returned to London in 
April, for the diary records : 

" April 2Qth. To National Gallery. To tailor's to order 
new clothes. 

"April 2lst. Not well, could not work. To Water- 
Colour Gallery. Introduced to Gilbert, Goodall, Burton, 
Fripp, Holland, &c. 

" April 23rd. Worked on Snow Picture all day. 

"April 24:th. Snow Picture until 6. Buttenvorth 
called, went with him to his house." 

108 



"ONE OF OUR BREAD WATCHERS" 109 

The Snow Picture referred to was " One of our Bread 
Watchers," now in the Manchester Art Gallery. Studies 
for this had been made more than a year before. At 
Porlock on one occasion the artist worked for three days 
upon a snow-covered ploughed field, sharing the privations 
which his little model and many other boys and girls 
endured for the poorest wage. The children were left 
from dawn to dusk, armed with wooden rattles, in shelters 
rudely constructed of gorse and hurdles, to scare the birds 
from the newly sown corn, a small fire being lighted on 
the ground, as shown in the picture, to keep the poor little 
bird-watcher from freezing. This picture, as the diaries 
show, was worked upon until the last moment, and when 
it was taken to the gallery on April 25th it was a day too 
late. The walls were nearly hung. An old member, 
James Holland, in his admiration for the new comer's 
work, took down one of his own pictures hung upon the 
line and put the " Bread Watcher " in its place an act of 
rare generosity never forgotten by Shields. The picture 
was rather well reproduced with an appreciative notice in 
the Illustrated Times, August llth, 1866. It was sold at 
Christie's in 1894 for 100 (Agnew). 

" May 1st. To City to meet Mr. Rowbotham, to sales, 
and Old Water-Colour, and New Society with him. To 
Charles Dickens' reading. Home 1.30. 

" May Itth. Still unwell. To see Rossetti till 2." 
The diary is almost blank for several months after this 
entry, probably owing to the nervous breakdown he 
suffered at this period. Early years of privation had 
given Shields little chance to build up a physique of 
normal strength. His vitality was astonishing, but the 
intense nervous tension of years of overwork and under- 
feeding, his terribly depressing views of life, with his 
astounding energy and power of concentration, left him 
little strength to cope with the everyday distractions of 



110 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

town life. No doubt the fact of his having lived alone for 
so many years made it more difficult for him to adapt 
himself to his new surroundings. He said of this time : 
" I have counted as many as seven organs in a morning at 
Chelsea, with German bands. It was this infliction that 
had brought me so low nothing else." 

Presumably the nervous system of a genius is always 
in a more or less abnormal condition ; certain it is that to the 
end of his life even a distant organ-grinder would cause an 
amount of acute distress quite incomprehensible to an 
ordinary individual, while a barking dog, or even the 
twittering of sparrows on the studio roof, was distracting 
as the roar of a lion would be to most people. For six 
months he could do no work, and his medical advisers 
took a grave view of his case. One doctor ordered him to 
Ems, but to use Shields' own words, " he might as well 
have ordered me to the moon." He then asked his 
patient if he could afford to go to Boulogne, and this was 
settled. However, Robert Collinson and his wife were 
going to Sandgate, and persuaded Shields to go with 
them. A stay of some months, and the companion- 
ship of his friends, failed to restore him. The Collin- 
sons left Sandgate in September, and after an attempt 
at sketching in the camp, Shields made up his mind to 
go to Boulogne. For the first time setting his foot on 
foreign soil, he found everything strange and of new in- 
terest. His worn-out nerves began to regain tone, and 
within a fortnight he was busily sketching among the 
French fisherfolk. 

He had seen enough of camp life at Sandgate to 
interest him and returned there at the end of the year, 
making a stay of some months, and there producing his 
only military pictures, " The Bugler," sometimes called 
" Sounding the Retreat at Inkerman," now the property of 
Sir William Houldsworth, the " Drummer Boy's Dream," 



"AFTER THE STORMING" 111 

and " After the Storming." l The last named, a pathetic 
and realistic picture of a dying drummer boy, wonderfully 
vivid in colour, is unlike any other work by Shields. Of 
these pictures the artist wrote in later years : "I remem- 
ber sitting beneath my umbrella, in a pouring downfall 
of rain, the day after a review, to obtain the look of the 
soaked ground cut up by the wheels of the artillery. 
'After the Storming' was suggested by an incident of 
a review, where a drummer boy fainted and a comrade 
brought water to him in his bugle from a little stream 
near by." 

From Sandgate Shields returned for a time to London, 
where he lodged in Phene Street, Chelsea. " The Bugler " 
was finished there, and he records that Rossetti came to 
see it. 

MANCHESTER, 21th April 1867. 

MY DEAR SIB, The Manchester Examiner of this 
morning gave me your address at the top of a letter of 
yours which Ruskin has printed in one of his to some 
working men. I daresay you have seen it. 

I have long been looking for some way of thanking you 
for that very sweet and thoughtful and devout " Right- 
eousness and Peace have kissed each other " which you 
were good enough to send me, and for the friendly words 
pencilled on the margin. I did not know whether you 
were in England, and had no means of finding out. I hope 
you are growing which is what people mean, if they are 
wise, when they say succeeding. I for one wait to hear 
of your work and shall have fallen from a great hope if 
you do not become a teacher and a blessing to us. With 
kind regards, I am, my dear Sir, yours truly, 

ALEXANDER M'LAREN. 



The letter referred to was probably one written to 
Ruskin on the death of C. H. Bennett, which was a great 

1 Now in the collection of Mr. Leicester Collier. 



112 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

grief to Shields. The letter is printed in Time and Tide 
the names being omitted. 

1 PHENE STREET, CHELSEA, 
April 10th, 1867. 

MY DEAR MR. RUSKIN, It is long since you have heard 
of me, and now I ask your patience with me for a little. 
I have but just returned from the funeral of my dear 
friend C. H. Bennett, the first artist friend I made in 
London, a loved and prized one. For years he had lived 
in the very humblest way, fighting his battle of life against 
mean appreciation of his talents, the wants of a rising 
family, and frequent attacks of illness, crippling him for 
two months at a time, the wolf at the door meanwhile. 
But about two years since his prospects brightened and he 
had but a few weeks since ventured on a large house. His 
eldest boy of seventeen years, a very intelligent youth, so 
strongly desired to be a civil engineer that Bennett, not 
being able to pay the large premium required for his 
apprenticeship, nad been made very glad by the consent 
of W. Penn, of Millwall, to receive him without a premium 
after the boy should have spent some time at King's 
College in tne study of mechanics. The rest is a sad 
story. About a fortnight ago Bennett was taken ill, and 
died last week, the doctors say, of sheer physical exhaus- 
tion, not thirty-nine years of age, leavmg eight young 
children, and his poor widow expecting her confinement, 
and so weak and ill as to be incapable of effort. This youth 
is the eldest, and the other children range downwards to a 
babe of eighteen months. There is not one who knew him, 
I believe, that will not give cheerfully, to their ability, for 
his wife and children ; but such aia will go but a little 
way in this painful case ; and it would be a real boon to 
this poor widow if some of her children could be got into 
an orphan asylum. If you are able to do anything I would 
send particulars of the age and sex of the children. I 
remain, ever obediently yours, FRED. J. SHIELDS. 

P.S. I ought to say that poor Bennett has been quite 
unable to save, with his large family ; and that they would 
be utterly destitute now, but for the kindness of some with 
whom he was professionally connected. 



RUSKIN AND BENNETT 113 

Ruskin replied with warm sympathy, sending 20 for 
the widow, and saying : " I never heard of anything more 
sad though I hear of awful things daily." 

A few months after this Shields again fled from 
London noise to the comparative quiet of Manchester. 
In October Rossetti wrote : 

16 CHEYNB WALK, 

23rd October 1867. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Sending off the drawing at last 
to-day to Manchester, to M'Connell (who, however, is in 
Wales), I am so forcibly put in mind of one of the best of 
fellows, now at Manchester, that I cannot help writing him 
this line. I should be very glad to hear how you are and 
how progressing. I myself have been mostly hard at 
work since seeing you, though I was away in the country 
for a short time, and may possibly go again. 

I hardly know what news to give you of my monoton- 
ous proceedings, which have consisted chiefly of producing 
copies, for the last month or two, from my larger pictures 
in hand, with the exception of this thing, finished for 
M'Connell. 

I am on the point of building a studio at last in the 
garden, and am negotiating for the stables, as Webb, 
the architect, declares it would be madness to begin 
building right out if I can get such a good beginning as 
they would afford. 

I wish, if I can be in any way of the slightest service 
in London, you would let me know at all times, and be- 
lieve me, ever yours affectionately, D. G. ROSSETTI. 

P.8. I find that you were really a shield to the 
neighbourhood, and are dreadfully missed when razzias 
occur on the part of organ-grinders, brass bands, et hoc 
genus omne. So say the neighbours. 

Mr. M'Connell was another early friend and generous 
patron of Shields. He had just purchased his " Bugler " 
picture, and was introduced by Shields to Rossetti. Mean- 

H 



114 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

while, in Cornbrook Park, Shields had found an old 
detached house, long unoccupied, with a lovely over- 
grown neglected garden and a great walled open space in 
front. Far from organ-grinders and bands, here quiet 
seemed attained, and Rossetti, writing again on Novem- 
ber 16th, says : 

" I congratulate you supremely on having attained at 
last to complete desolation as regards social propinquity. 
I suppose from what you say that you can even take good 
walks without seeing or hearing your kind. Nothing 
could suit me better, and I still hope to be an outcast 
from humanity one of these days. 

" I have received a ticket for the Private View of the 
W.C. Sketches, which I suppose is another mark of your 
bearing me in mind. 

" I do not know that I shall go on that day, as humanity 
will be rather too rampant ; but sometime when the thing 
has proved a failure, to a sufficiently encouraging extent, 
I may seek it for a desert walk, and hope to meet you 
there in spirit. I have not heard from Mr. M'Connell how 
he likes the ' Tristram,' and have an idea he may not 
perhaps care much about it. This I should regret, but 
could not help, as I did my best for it and certainly came 
as near satisfying myself as I have done in most cases 
with water-colours perhaps in any. If you have seen it 
I should feel more interested in your verdict. You are 
remembered and desired again by all friends here, and by 
rione more than by your affectionate 

" D. G. ROSSETTI." 

A few weeks later Madox Brown writes, evidently in 
great excitement. 

37 FITZROT SQUABK, 

November 20th, 1867. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I have only time for a few words 
Gabriel is here and it is 2 in the morning, and what I 
have to say is this ; can you get the 2 names given in as 
signatures to the memorial now in course of being sent in 




THE BUGLER 

(1866) 

By permission of Sir William Hoitldsworth, Bart. 



THE CONDEMNED FENIANS 115 

in favour of the 5 Fenians under sentence now in Man- 
chester? We know your sympathies are in the right 
direction. As ever yours, FOKD MADOX BROWN. 

DANTE G. ROSSETTI. 



A day or two afterwards an appeal from Swinburne for 
mercy for the Fenians appeared in the Morning Star. 

37 FITZKOY SQUARE, W., 

November 23rd, 1867. 

DEAREST SHIELDS, Thanks for your kind true-hearted 
letter. It is now too late for any of us to be of use in this 
black matter. This most egregious piece of Government 
folly is consummated, and I fear it will be long before the 
bitter fruits of it will be all swallowed and got rid of. 

Your heart is in the right place, and Swinburne's too, 
bless the little man, and old Gabriel's too, thank heaven 
few others that I can make out. I am at least glad that 
our opinions have been recorded thanks to your prompt 
action in the case of Gabriel and myself. To you, sus- 
ceptible and excitable as you are, the scenes and the 
suspense must have been most painful and exhausting. 
I only hope it may prove the downfall of the present bad 
Tory Government, good of any other kind to come from it 
one cannot expect. 

Enough one must try and forget it for the present at 
least. 

Mrs. Brown was asking this morning if you might not 
be persuaded to spend Christmas with us. I wish you 
would. It will be a mighty sober affair with us, I expect, 
only one elderly female cousin of mine with us. Try and 
do it ! And believe always in our most affectionate regards 
and wishes for you. FORD MADOX BROWN. 

Among the pictures completed during the years from 
1866-1869, may be named " Rahab awaiting the Coming of 
Joshua" this was apparently painted for the generous 
commission of Sir Walter James, who left the choice of 
subject, size, and medium to the artist, " Wesley Preaching 



116 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

at Bolton," "The Sisters," a very beautiful little water- 
colour called "The Nautilus," probably from sketches at 
Boulogne, the water-colour of " Solomon Eagle " now in 
the Manchester City Art Gallery, " Sappho, " and others. 

No one could have been more eager to help his friends 
or his friends' friends than Shields. Indeed, in after years 
he and Madox Brown seemed rarely to be without some 
helpless widow with a large family on their hands, or some 
unappreciated genius who had to be helped with a sub- 
scription, or an exhibition, or a raffle. A big commission 
either to Brown, Shields, or Rossetti usually had the 
immediate effect of making the fortunate one write at 
once with an offer of a loan of five or ten pounds to both 
the others sometimes ' the tin " was despatched without 
any preliminary offer and on rare occasions was returned 
if there was no immediate need for it. Shields was 
perhaps the only one of the three who had a real horror 
of debt, and who would suffer any personal 'privation 
rather than incur it. Mr. William Rossetti includes the 
following letter in his Rossetti Papers: 

CORNBROOK HOUSE, 

MANCHESTER, llth, February 1868. 

MY DEAR ROSSETTI, For the past month that is, 
ever since Mr. M'Connell gave me the opportunity of 
seeing the " Sir Tristram" I nave meant to write how great 
pleasure I enjoyed in hanging over it ; and if (as you inti- 
mated) you relied in any measure on my poor opinion, it 
will satisfy you to know I indeed think with you that it 
approaches nearer to the highest standard than anything 
you have yet achieved in water-colour. 

Let me say how much the subject of your last note 
gratified me, for I have known Warwick Brookes for some 
years, but not intimately, his disposition being too retiring 
for that. Your information concerning him is not very 
accurate, for he must be nearer fifty than forty, and has a 
family of six children, the eldest girl being about sixteen 



WARWICK BROOKES 117 

years. With this young family he never dared to venture 
to give up a situation as pattern designer for ladies dresses 
which he held in a firm here, and which brought him in a 
settled sum per week, for the uncertain and fluctuating 
remuneration attending the profession of art. So that all 
you have seen, and much more, has been done during the 
leisure hours of his evenings and Saturday afternoons. 
For two years back he has been lying sick of consumption ; 
and his main, perhaps his only, source of income has been 
the sale of the set of photos, with which you are acquainted. 
Sir Walter James has most generously exerted himself to 
spread the circulation, and other friends have done their 
best also. He is too independent in temper to accept 
help in any other way ; but I am certain would feel both 
grateful and pleased with such assistance as you can 
secure for him in this way. The price of the set is four 
pounds. 1 took the liberty, believing it would gladden 
his sick chamber, of showing him your letter on Saturday 
night ; and though he was too weak to read it himself, he 
most earnestly expressed his estimation of your approval. 
Most truly yours, FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. 

Rossetti replied : 

16 CHEYNB WALK, 21st February 1868. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Your letter calls for my thanks in 
various ways. First, about Warwick Brookes, whom I 
almost guessed to be more of a regular artist than had 
been represented to me. I shall be anxious to have a set 
of his admirable photo'd drawings, and will write him with 
this, enclosing the 4. When here I have little doubt 
their being seen must lead to further sales. Howell, to 
whom I spoke on the subject and who saw the photos at 
my mother's, at once said he would undertake that Ruskin 
would wish to have an original drawing. I will speak 
further to him when my own photographs arrive. It is 
melancholy to think that any aid and appreciation, such 
as the drawings cannot fail to excite, will come only at 
such a painful time. Is there really no hope of recovery ? 
I cannot understand how such an artist can have failed so 
long to obtain employment from the dealers in Manchester. 
His babies are worthy of William Hunt, and have never 



118 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

been surpassed. Does he work in colour ? In such case 
I fancy employment in London as a copyist to begin with 
might easily be obtained. But I suppose the health ques- 
tion now quite negatives this. Now as to Mr. Johnson 
and the cartoons. I still have the Vineyard set, and 
though I have lately been asking more for them shall be 
happy to sell them at the price named to him. My own 
impression is that I must have said 100 guineas, not 
pounds (because I always do so) ; but if he and you are 
under the other impression, so be it. The frame will require 
to be written on, after which I can send the set. Wnere 
should it go to ? I should have to charge the carriage 
and case to Mr. Johnson. What is his address? One 
thing more on this point. I have another set of six (the 
Vineyard is seven including a double-sized one) from the 
legend of St. George and the Dragon. They are framed 
to match the Vineyard set ; and as it would be a relief to 
me to clear my walls and hang other things, I would part 
with the two sets together for 170 guineas if Mr. Johnson 
liked to have both. As I presume he must propose hang- 
ing the one set in some hall or suchlike place, the effect 
would be greatly enhanced by having the two sets, and 
one is quite equal to the other. If you can conveniently 
mention this to him, will you do so ? Otherwise it does 
not matter, as also regarding the question between pounds 
and guineas, which must not be raised at all ifyou have 
to write or be in any way troubled about it. What you 
say of the " Tristram " drawing is very gratifying to me. As 
regards the application of the Leeds Committee for it, this 
makes me somewhat anxious, as it is the third application 
of the kind which has come to my ears. I had some time 
ago, and have since had renewed, a promise from Mr. 
Baring, the head commissioner, that no works of mine 
shoula be applied for, or even admitted if offered ; but it 
is quite comprehensible that in such a multitudinous 
scheme of operations a slight matter of this kind might 
get overlooked. I consider the point all important to me 
now, as to which you understand my precise views. Only 
a thoroughly well considered and sufficiently important 
appearance in public, after all these years of partial repu- 
tation on grounds chiefly unknown, could do otherwise 



WARWICK BROOKES 119 

than greatly damage me ; and this could only be obtained 
by my having myself full control and selection. In short, 
at present nothing would be so discouraging to me as to 
be forced before the public in a sudden and incomplete 
way, and I am most anxious to do all I can to prevent it. 
Mr. Craven and Mr. M'Connell (thanks to you) have now 
been secured on my side. You know Mr. Long ; shall 
you be seeing him, and if so, could you see whether he 
has been applied to and with what result ? I would 
write to him if necessary. . . . Don't suppose that I mean 
to worry you about my trumpery thin-skinned interests, 
but a hint from you, if you possess the means, might 
enable me to act for myself. Do you know when the 
Leeds gallery opens ? 

Daylight at this distance from town being only avail- 
able for painting, I have actually never as yet seen the 
Old Water-Colour sketches, though I have meant to do 
so and may yet. I am glad you will appear in the main 
exhibition ; but you do not tell me much of your own 
doings. I heard from Chapman that your " Drummer Boy" 
drawing was exhibited at Manchester. I hope with good 
result, as it certainly ought to have served you well. . . . 
Have you continued on the tack of the " Rahab " in subject 
and treatment, or have you done subjects of the present 
day ? I hope to have a full and satisfactory talk with 
you on all points of interest to both of us (and we have 
many in common) when you come again to London, and 
hope further that that may be soon. Old Brown is as 
choice an old master as ever, and all friends I think well 
on the whole. Your affectionate D. G. ROSSETTI. 

P.8. You know I could always lodge you on a run to 
London. 



Rossetti always made it a condition with the purchasers 
of his pictures that they should not be exhibited without 
his consent. It is pleasant to be able to record that 
through the enthusiastic support of Shields, Dr. Crompton, 
Rossetti, and others, Warwick Brookes received the recog- 
nition he deserved, and was enabled to continue his work 



120 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

for many years in comparative ease and prosperity. Lord 
Northbourne brought him to the notice of the Prime 
Minister, and Mr. Gladstone took an active interest in 
him, inviting him to Hawarden. Through Mr. Gladstone, 
Brookes' work was shown to Queen Victoria, who pur- 
chased specimens ; and she consented to Mr. Gladstone's 
proposal that Warwick Brookes should be granted a pen- 
sion of one hundred pounds per annum, and that it should 
be dated from the previous year. His biographer, Mr. 
Letherbrow, himself a dear friend of Shields, relates : " For 
eleven years longer, hopeful and happy to the end, Mr. 
Brookes worked on at home, and making short excursions 
to beautiful country lanes and green spots, producing a 
series of exquisite studies." On hearing of his death, 
Mr. Gladstone wrote a most touching letter of sympathy 
to his son, and subsequently forwarded a donation of a 
hundred pounds to the widow from the Queen's Bounty. 
It is interesting to note the difference of spirit or perhaps 
one should say nerves between Brookes and his friend 
Shields as illustrated by the following anecdote. On the 
evening of Brookes' death an Italian woman came and 
played an organ in front of the house. Fearing the noise 
would disturb the dying man, they were about to send 
her away ; but he reproved them saying, " Don't send her 
away ; she is the countrywoman of Raphael ! " 



CHAPTER VIII 

M'Lachlan the photographer Arthur Hughes Madox Brown's advice 
Chloral Illness Winnington Ruskin's generous offer M'Connell's 
invitation Rossetti's method of chalk drawing. 

IN the diaries and elsewhere has been mentioned the name 
of M'Lachlan, for whom Shields worked at several periods 
of his career, more from friendship for M'Lachlan than from 
any liking for the work entrusted to him. M'Lachlan was 
a photographer who was given to composing with the 
assistance of Shields and other artists large 'groups of 
celebrities notably the terrible " Royal Group " which 
was afterwards the subject of much litigation, and of 
which we shall hear more later. At present it was a 
group of the Relief Committee for the Cotton Famine. 
From illness and other causes Shields was anxious to find 
some one to take his place in assisting M'Lachlan, and 
ultimately introduced his friend Arthur Hughes. Madox 
Brown wrote : 

1 BLENHEIM PLACE, APSLEY ROAD, 

GKEAT YAKMOUTH, August 10th, 1868. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I received your kind letter just as I 
was leaving for this place, where I am pretty well with 
but little traces of the old attack at present. . . . By the 
way, I forgot to answer your enquiry about Swinburne. 
The accident was not severe, and in spite of all the penny- 
a-liner could say, he was out the next day. But the 
worst of it is that the accident was caused by a Jit a 
slight one, no doubt, still a fit, which is not the first of the 
kind he has had. He is now with his parents in Oxford- 
shire and quiet and safe for a time. 

I have written to Hughes, explaining as well as I could 



121 



122 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the peculiarities of the case of M'Lachlan, also mentioning 
what you wished to know as to the prices of his water- 
colours. I don't know if he will answer me here or wait 
till I am back home, which will be in two or three days. 

I am glad to hear you are at work again, because I 
conceive from that that you are getting all right again. I 
must prescribe for you now. Rememoer my old advice : 
when nervousness and debility supervene take wine! 
Begin with a glass the first thing in the morning and 
repeat the dose at intervals during the day, measuring it 
so as never to allow it to produce confusion, and never to let 
the spirits droop. If you can't sleep, porter and biscuits, 
or hot water and brandy ; if you wake up with a start, 
more brandy and water and wine the first thing in the 
morning but as soon as good ensues from it, begin 
leaving it off by degrees. This and change of scene you 
know my course of tonics of old. 

I think Hughes would be likely to photograph well if he 
will do the work, because his modelling is always strong 
and dark, and as he is a good worker he might possibly 
undertake the job with advantage. Robertson is, I believe, 
rather slow, very painstaking and slightly timid ; and being 
used to portrait painters' prices, I tear he might scarcely 
see his way to undertake a work with thirty figures in it. 
But if Hughes cannot do the thing, I have the letter 
written out to Robertson. 

Nolly shall make you some sketch before long. Mrs. 
Brown and Cathy join with me in kind remembrances and 
best wishes. Always yours faithfully, 

FORD MADOX BROWN. 



The medical advice given in this letter was probably 
in the nature of a joke, for Madox Brown was doubtless 
aware of Shields' strict views on temperance. 

Unfortunately he gave him some advice of a much 
more dangerous nature in a letter written soon after this. 
He says : " Stillman who is here has given me the name of 
a splendid sleeping potion Hydrate of Chloral 1 dram in 1 
oz. of water, and take one to four teaspoonfuls as needed." 



RUSKIN'S KINDNESS 123 

Unhappily this advice was followed by Shields, and 
he was for years more or less enslaved by the drug, and 
only broke from it in 1874 or 1875. He wrote in later 
life, referring to Rossetti's illness: "Chloral gives only 
deathlike stupefaction without restorative power. The 
suicidal despondency produced by Chloral I know too 
well only a resolute severance from it saved myself. No 
friend had the same experimental sympathy with Gabriel 
as I had." 

Ruskin wrote more than once during this summer 
thanking Shields warmly for help he had given at Win- 
nington. He advised him about some casts of Greek 
coins, probably for the use of the pupils there, introducing 
him to Mr. Ready of the British Museum. Ruskin was 
also concerned by Miss Bell's reports as to Shields' health, 
and wrote in September the kindest letter, signed "Ever 
yours affectionately," in which he says : 

" I should be very grateful to you if you could trust my 
respect for your genius so far as to let me make you a little 
present of such sum as would enable you to take perfect 
rest during the remainder of the autumn. Please write 
directly to Poste Restante, Abbeville, and tell me what 
would enable you to do so." 

In a note, years later, Shields wrote : 

" Let me also here record that twice in my life, hearing 
through friends that I was run down in health, Mr. Ruskin 
wrote to me, asking me to take from him freely such sum 
as would have given me change and rest. But I sought 
only his esteem and friendship, and therefore declined an 
aid that might have made me numbered with many, whom 
I knew preyed, leech-like, on his purse." 

Madox Brown wrote on October 10th : 

" From M'Lachlan I have heard the most flourishing 
accounts of yourself, your house, and your work. As for 



124 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

myself, I was ill twice this summer, but suffered more in 
comfort and looks than in work ; for though I was in bed 
at least two months in all, I certainly did not lose more 
than three weeks of work. I was only too glad to be able 
to wile away the time in painting the moment it was 
possible. . . . 

" As to Gabriel, he is, he tells me, much better as to 
health and sleep, and the air of the North seems to suit 
him, but the thing that troubles him is his eyesight ; this, 
however, is at present a strict secret ; it alarms him more 
than I can say ; but, as far as I can understand, the case is 
a very common one, having to do with his general health 
and not the optic nerves at least, both oculists and 
doctors agree about it, But as yet it seems he has found 
no relief, though improved in health. I have no doubt he 
will be all right in a few weeks, if he continues to rest as 
he is now doing ; I don't think he has been overworking 
himself lately ; certainly not at the ' Perseus,' for it is not 
begun ; but for a long time 10 or 15 years past his life 
has been one of perpetual toil and anxiety, and he is now 
beginning to feel it. I will write to you any favourable 
news as soon as it may come to hand. Hughes will, I 
hope, get on with M'Lachlan ; I am sure if he cannot 
satisfy him, no one else will." 

A little later he wrote again about the photographic 
work : 

" Hughes has, I am happy to say, concluded a rather 
favourable bargain with M'Lachlan, which I trust will 
turn out to the advantage of both. 

" He was exceedingly interested in M'Lachlan once he 
had seen him, though before that he was getting a little 
tired of his pertinacity I suspect. I told M'Lachlan that 
it was a chance in a thousand for him to have got 
Hughes, and that if he did not profit by it, he might bid 

food-bye to his undertaking. I saw Rossetti's doctor to- 
ay whom I wish, by the oye, you would consult. He 
had a letter later than I have had. Gabriel now begins 
to feel his eyes better in Scotland, and is convinced that it 
has to do with his general health, and has some thought 



ARTHUR HUGHES 125 

of wintering in Ayrshire. My 'Elijah' is progressing 
rapidly. Mother and son both near finished, only Elijah's 
head and the hen and chick not painted in yet. Those 
who have seen it seem to think it will be my finest draw- 
ing. What are you going to send to the Sketch Exhibi- 
tion ? I trust you will put in a good appearance though 
hindered by health." 

Arthur Hughes undertook the work, which was appar- 
ently to copy the photographs, correcting the composition 
of the group and improving the portraits, the whole then 
being photographed again by M'Lachlan. On December 
15th, 1868, Hughes writes : 

" Not having yet received the great group from 
M'Lachlan, I begin to fear that he is still trying to make 
some improvements in it, and if so, as I think, wearing 
himself out unnecessarily ; for what points there are where 
improvement is to be done, will, I firmly believe, yield 
to me. I would like to tell you how very much I 
like your drawings at the Old Water-Colour Society. It is 
very seldom one sees such perfect pieces of drawing. The 
heads fascinate one from their individuality just as a face 
very full of character does in life, and do, and do not, most 
happily make one forget the artist, it is too rare to see 
such entire unaffectedness and loyalty to nature with such 
power." 

M'Lachlan seems to have been a man of extraordinary 
pertinacity, and from subsequent correspondence it is 
evident that he was a somewhat trying person to work 
for. Some idea of the maddening nature of the task may 
be gathered from a letter from Mr. Hughes undated in 
which he says : 

" I am awfully sorry to hear that M'Lachlan is poorly, 
and greatly obliged for your work at the effect of the 
picture. I agree with all of it, with the exception of the 
Hayward waistcoat which I fear is calculated to pull 
the eye from Lord Derby indeed I shall not wait for you 



126 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

or Mac coming up, but to-morrow morning begin. This 
is not the eleventh hour, but the eleventh and fiftieth 
minute, and after all this coaching and experience of the 
damnable photography I really do understand it." 



Mr. Arthur Hughes was proverbially a man ot angelic 
temper and patience, and if the work evoked this ex- 
pression from him, it can be imagined to what state of 
exasperation it must have reduced his nervous and excit- 
able friend Shields. 

The diary for 1869 is missing, but during that year 
Shields was in his big, lonely house at Cornbrook, working 
as before, chiefly in water-colour. In June he prepared 
for a visit to London, and was asked to stay with Madox 
Brown, who wrote on June 10th : 

" Just as you like whenever you appear you will be 
welcome;" and adds the characteristic postscript: "In 
spite of what you say in the matter of ' tin,' should you 
fall short, we will manage it somehow." 

His good friend Mr. M'Connell, purchaser of several 
of Shields' early works, wrote from Wales : 

August Sth, 1869. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I am sorry you cannot come just 
now ; but come when you can, sooner or later. I don't 
know of anything on our part to prevent you coming, 
but write as soon as you can fix anything, ana let us know 
if you can come ana when, and I will tell you if that will 
suit us. I am very sorry to hear of your not being well. 
Perhaps this air might do wonders for you, and if you like 
I could send you into the mountains for a few days. I 
have a room or two up at the quarry, right high up in the 
mountains and amidst beautiful scenery, good bread and 
splendid milk and Welsh mutton to eat. You have not 
tried such a place, perhaps it might quite set you up. It 
would be rather lonely, but only because you are a 



ROSSETTI AT PENKILL 127 

bachelor, and I go there most days. Mrs. M'Connell 
desires to be kindly remembered. Yours truly, 

T. H. M'CONNELL. 

P.S. There are no birds. 
No Pianos. 
No Babies. 

No singing men or singing women. 
Not even a clock ticking without ceasing. 
There's Elysium ! 



Whether this genial note induced Shields to visit 
Wales is not recorded, but in August he was at Cornbrook, 
giving much attention to drawing in coloured chalk, and 
the long letter from Rossetti that follows shows that he 
was anxious to study methods of working in that medium. 

PENKILL CASTLE, GIEVAK, AYRSHIKE, 
27th August 1869. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I was going to write you myself 
on the two subjects of your letter. Not that I have really 
any word to say to such fateful horrors as the one which 
is now crushing poor Craven's soul. They leave me dumb 
with their anomalous enormity. But I wished to know 
exactly how he was ; and may probably make up uiy 
mind to write him a word, though a stranger like myself 
naturally doubts his claim to speak at all at such a time. 
I had already heard something of this terrible circum- 
stance from Brown since coming here, where I have now 
been over a week and am, I hope, benefiting by the 
change. I may probably stay two or three weeks longer. 
The surroundings of this house are most lovely and 
soothing a glen which is quite private and gives pictures 
at every turn. The inmates are the lady of the house, 
Miss Boyd, a rarely precious woman, and our friend W. B. 
Scott, the best of philosophic and poetic natures a man 
of the truest genius and one of my oldest companions. 
So you see I have peace, friendship, and art, all to help me. 
I wish you were here to share the pleasure and advantage 
of such sympathetic surroundings. Scott, who read your 



128 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

letter, sends you his love which you seem to have secured, 
though I do not know how often you have met him. 

You may be sure the dreadful tidings you give have 
furnished us with some sad thoughts and talk. . . . 

At this moment I hear from London that Agnew 
has called and bought two chalk drawings I left to be 
shown him for eighty guineas each. If he will go on this 
will furnish some profitable pot-boiling ; and I tell you, as 
you were the first to suggest a connection with him. 

Could I be of any service in lending you a little money 
just now ? Do, do tell me if I can. I have plenty of good 
opportunities of earning at present. 

I have brought no work here with me ; but am occu- 
pied lazily with the proofs of the poetry I am printing 
mostly old things which I find sometimes going about in 
blundered transcriptions which might some time get into 
print to the affliction of one's still thin-skinned ghost. So 
I am putting them in a permanent shape, though I shall 
not publish yet, not having complete copies of a sufficient 
quantity of verse. However, I go on writing at times, and 
may soon break out into publicity. Incentives occur now 
and then. There is an article on me in Tinsley's Magazine 
for September, following one on my sister last month, and 
to be followed, as I judge, by one on my brother next 
month ! I do not know who is the writer so, after twenty 
years one stranger does seem to have discovered one's 
existence. However, I have no cause to complain, since 
I have all I need of an essential kind, and nave taken 
little trouble about it, except always in the nature of my 
work the poetry especially, in which I have done no pot- 
boiling at any rate. So I am grateful to that art, and 
nourish against the other that base grudge which we bear 
those whom we have treated shabbily. 

However, I am adding you to that class by all this 
tirade about myself, and though I do not think the grudge 
will result on my side, I must beware lest it should on 
yours. 

I hope if you have time to write me again it will be 
with good news after all the bad. Your health is a most 
anxious subject, and I cannot but think that the extreme 
excitement and exertion to which I know you subject 



EOSSETTI ON CHALK DRAWINGS 129 

yourself in other kinds of work than Art should be re- 
mitted for a time as an experiment. Also, and above all, 
I am sure that the matrimonial question should be kept 
in view, though here I know one is far from being master 
of the situation according to one's pleasure. 

Thanks for remembering about the Warburg tincture. 

In the matter of chalk drawings I don't know what 
paper you use. The blue-grey is of course the one tending 
most to deaden redness ; but it is apt to resist covering for 
a long time and leave the drawing cold, besides much 
increasing outlay of work to remedy this. I have lately 
adopted a very slightly greenish tint instead, which has 
great advantages ; but, of course, requires caution as to 
redness. However, if you make a good progress with your 
tints by merely rubbing with the finger before you put 
white in at all this difficulty may be combated, as I think 
the white rubbed into the red is what chiefly reddens it. 
I have found the piece of grey chalk you brought me 
useful to deaden little rednesses in finishing, and have 
therefore got some more from Brodie. One objection to 
the greenish paper is that it is so light that the white 
makes at first little effect on it. I think not a bad plan 
is to make a mixture of black and red powdered chalk, 
dip a stump in it, rub it almost off the stump again, and 
then rub the stump all over the paper you are going to 
work on before you begin. The tint thus rubbed should 
be no stronger than a sky, but is neutral and pleasant 
with the greenish tint underneath, and gives a good 
ground to work into, as the white tells on it and you can 
bread out lights. I suppose, like myself, you hardly use 
the stump at all in actual work ; but always rub with the 
fingers. 

I will send you my privately printed poems when they 
are revised and finally struck off. 

There is some chance, I hope, of Brown soon joining 
here. I know he would enjoy it enormously. Ever affec- 
tionately yours, D. GABRIEL ROSSETTI. 

P.S. If you want grey chalk, or anything else, in 
London, write a card to H. T. Dunn at my address, and I 
am sure he will see about it for you. 

I 



130 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

The latter part of this letter was printed many years 
later in an article by Shields in the Century Guild Hobby- 
Horse, on Rossetti's chalk drawings. The article was 
inspired by a friend, who said : " If the conditions of the 
age in which we live are adverse to immediate tradition 
from master to pupil, surely we should at least, when so 
extraordinary an artist as Rossetti has passed from our 
midst, seek to lay up as a treasure every fragment of his 
methods that can be recorded." 

This reply to the last letter appears in Mr. William 
Rossetti's book, Rossetti Papers : 

COBNBBOOK PABK, MANCHESTER, 
October 29th, 1869. 

MY DEAR ROSSETTI, Last week I had a note from dear 
Brown in which he told me that you were not painting, but 
still writing or correcting poetry. This makes me fear 
that your stay in Ayrshire has done you no good ; and 
that in some way, either in your eyesight or otherwise, you 
are still suffering so much that you cannot pursue the 
work you love. I am greatly your debtor for the long, 
full, kind letter you wrote to me while there, as well as 
for your good offices with Graham. . . . 

How sad your thoughtful talks with W. B. Scott upon 
all that poor Craven's affliction suggested must have been ! 
The philosopher is as blind here as the Christian, and, if he 
be not both, without the consolations which support the 
latter. I have seen but little of Scott, and that at your 
table ; but I know and greatly esteem much that he has 
done, especially as one 01 the most original designers living, 
whenever he likes to put his full force into his work ; and 
I beg through you to return, if I may, my love with my 
admiration, in answer to his own kind message. I wish that 
Brown had been able to join you as you expected. He is 
too much closed up indoors, and a blow of glen air would 
have done him great good, as his company would have 
done you also. He was like friend and father to me in 
London during my last visit. I am so glad that you have 
been doing business, with Agnew profitably, for these 



SHIELDS TO ROSSETTI 131 

frequent illnesses of yours will inevitably bring down your 
purse and make the wherewithal an anxious subject in spite 
of all determination to hold up bravely. I know this too 
well in recent experience ; and for this reason, as well as 
for others, I cannot consent to accept anything from you, 
even though pressed upon me with your generous impor- 
tunity. . . . The writer in Tinsley certainly appreciates 
your work in both arts, and I was on the whole thankful 
for the article. . . . The notice of your sister, Miss Chris- 
tina Rossetti, was very disappointing . . . stretched out 
to its required length by pecking at slight faults in her 
poems. But he cannot spoil my happiness in them, which 
is as great, from some of her devotional pieces, as any that 
poetry has ever afforded me. " After this Judgment " 
and "The Martyr's Song" are not easily matchable in reli- 
gious poetry. As I sit now, looking over her last volume 
again and recalling the impressions left on me by frequent 
readings of it, it appears almost invidious to select from 
these devotional pieces. The " Despised and Rejected " and 
" Dost Thou not Care ? " must come from her deepest 
heart. The critic is deaf to all this, and so deaf to what 
is best in your sister and forces the sweetest notes from 
her. ... It is so good of you to send me such plain and 
elaborate instructions about the three-chalk method on 
grey paper. The opportunity you allowed me of watching 
you at work was still more valuable to me ; and I think, 
as a consequence, that the drawings I have done for 
Graham will turn out successfully. Ever affectionately 
yours, FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. 

The terrible affliction of Mr. Craven, alluded to in 
this and in Rossetti's last letter, was the death of his little 
son, who was thrown from his pony and killed. 

Arthur Hughes was in Manchester earlier in the year, 
but this breezy letter shows him again in London. 
" Adders " (grass snakes !) and other reptiles, being silent, 
were among the few pets tolerated by Shields. A letter 
from Madox Brown about this time says : 

" I bewail with you the loss of your snake and lizard, 
Death has also been busy in Nolly's house a shiny green 



132 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

lizard, a flame-spotted salamander, and a slimy toad have 
stretched themselves out and bitten the dust ; Nolly has 
become more careful in consequence and builds houses of 
clay and brick lined with wadding for his last lizard, the 
one you gave him." 

Arthur Hughes writes : 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, How are you, I wonder? and 
all your household adders and toads. I have taken 
mine to the seaside for a week and came back most 
virtuously to my work. There's self-denial. Left them at 
Broadstairs all provided with spades, with which they 
make trenches and castles and graves in which they bury 
each other, all but the head, and thej have already 
a collection of sea-monsters in a pail alive a jelly-fish, 
a star-fish, some crabs, shrimps, winkles and whelks and 
it seems to me a beach is a most interesting and proper 
place to spend one's life on, doing nothing in the sunshine 
and eternally doing still more nothing ; but I am writing 
to say that Goodwin, to whom I mentioned some time 
ago tnat you thought your clergyman friend, whose name 
I rather forget, would perhaps like a drawing, tells me 
that he has some little ones ready, so I am writing you 
this scrawl, you see. Perhaps you will scribble a line 
to him to say if he may send his folio down to you ; his 
address is : 

A. Goodwin, Esq., 

10 Waterloo Street, 

Hove, Brighton. 

I hope that you are keeping well and better than 
I have known your general health, and that Fortune has 
smiled also in other ways on you by this, and am, my 
dear Shields, Ever yours, ARTHUR HUGHES. 

A wealthy patron, Mr. Graham, then M.P. for Glasgow, 
seems to have been rather disappointing about a com- 
mission, and both Madox Brown and Rossetti did their 
best to clear up the misunderstanding, apparently with- 



MADOX BROWN 133 

out success. The struggle with poverty and ill-health 
was again severe, and Shields' fiercely independent spirit 
doubtless kept most of his friends in ignorance of his 
difficulties. A beautiful study of a rose bush, painted 
in the gardens of Winnington in this year, was shown at 
the Memorial Exhibition. Long devotion to "Wesley 
Preaching at Bolton " and " Solomon Eagle " brought no 
immediate remuneration, and this was probably another 
reason for the straitened means evident from Madox 
Brown's letter, dated October 19th, 1869. 

"Rossetti wrote me the other day that Graham had 
just been with him and talking about you, seemed as 
though ashamed of his conduct in the matter of the 
commission. He said he had called upon you in Man- 
chester but you were out. Rossetti assured him he 
was of opinion that 200 guineas was a very moderate 
price for such a work as you had proposed to paint for 
him, and Graham ended by saying that he repented 
and would endeavour to renew the commission. You 
will probably ere now have heard from him, but if not, 
you may feel sure you will shortly, and should you feel 
inclined to renew relations with him (and I have no 
doubt you are too much of a man of the world not to 
do so), it may be something to cheer you up a bit now 
that things seem so depressed; what you say about 
money matters grieves me more to think you should 
be bothered at all, than it does even to find you thinking 
about that paltry loan in the morbid way you do. Why, 
man, you have been the means of putting hundreds into 
my pocket. As to what I said about our friend, do 
not think too much of it. I felt obliged to warn you, 
on your account as well as my own. I have no proof, 
except that he is one of the biggest liars in existence 
but he is half mad and one never can tell what he will 
be up to next ; at the same time, he is very good-natured 
in reality, and I have known him take the greatest 
trouble to be of use to people whom at the present moment 
he was injuring in every way by lies and calumnies. He 



134 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

is a perfect enigma. For some time past, the most 
astounding lies in favour of Burne-Jones and George 
Watts have been all his game. I heard him tell a string 
of them to Rossetti and Leyland, of all people, at Rossetti's 
the other night ; we all knew it was lies, but Leyland 
next day called at Jones's and ascertained they were lies 
and went and told Rossetti the result of his enquiries, 
and still he likes him better than ever, and says so. 

Rossetti is pretty well, painting little and writing 
much poetry, and pretty hard up in consequence. I did 
not go to him at Penkill, circumstances would not permit 
it which was to me a disappointment, but I don't much 
care so long as I can prevail on myself to work, and 
the family get their outing, and things are kept square 
somehow. We are all pretty well just now. Nolly, Cathy, 
and Lucy beginning their season pictures. They would 
heartily join me in kind remembrances if they knew I 
was writing. I am, as ever, sincerely yours, 

FORD MADOX BROWN. 

P.S. Chameleon's dead. We painted him over with 
brandy and water for three days, wh,ich seemed at first 
to comfort him and revive him, but it availed not. 

P.P.S. I would paint as many Macbeths as any one 
choose to pay for upright, lying down, or standing on 
their heads, if paid ror accordingly, but this would be 
an extra. 

Experiments with larger heads were made this year. 
Madox Brown, in an undated letter, writes again : 

" The Exhibitions are all in full swing, and the weather, 
though so fearful with north-east winds, is most beautiful 
to look at and good for much walking. I saw the chalk 
studies you sent to the Sketch Exhibition before my 
last letter; I omitted to say I had seen them, though 
knowing all the time that I had something important 
to say. 

" There was one of a fine-looking girl with laurels 
which I thought very fine, the throat and head in par- 
ticular admirably drawn and fine in expression, only the 



ROSSETTI'S INFLUENCE 135 

hands seemed too lumpy. It was evident you had 
Rossetti in your eye, but he obtains such beautiful models 
to work from that the delicacy of their forms compensates 
for the apparent simplicity in bulk. With this exception, 
I thought the drawings very fine. I must, however, 
notice (which I trust you will take well from me) that 
the works I have seen of yours which are most directly 
under the Rossetti influence are not your successful ones. 
I have told him this also, and he agrees that I am right. 
No doubt there is a radical difference in your natures, 
and though the charm of his genius provokes sym- 
pathetic emulation in you of a quite legitimate kind, 
still it is disturbing you in your orbit but we must talk 
this matter over at more leisure when you come here and 
when I have seen your last works. Come up soon and 
let us know first." 

Curiously enough, many years later Cosmo Monkhouse, 
referring to the windows for Eaton Chapel in the 
Magazine of Art (February 1884), writes: 

"There is, indeed, a well-spring of life and sincerity 
in Mr. Shields' imagination, and it is to be feared that 
glass, even though painted with his own hand, can never 
do complete justice to the beauty and originality of the 
designs, or the vigorous thought and poetical feeling 
which has been literally lavished on them. With the 
exception of Burne-Jones, there is no instance in which 
the personal influence of Dante Rossetti has been at once 
so powerful and so wholesome." 



CHAPTER IX 

Letters to the press Madox Brown and Rossetti Agnew and Rossetti's 
"blessed rhyme" " Knott Mill Fair " reproduced in the Graphic 
Matilda Booth Visit to Scotland Experiments in oils Rossetti on 
Craven and Eelmscott The Heywood Prize. 

ON several occasions during his life Frederic Shields took 
up his pen a formidable weapon in his facile hand to 
defend his friends or his theories in the Manchester papers. 
Evidently a letter was inspired on Madox Brown's account, 
and Brown's unselfish heart being only anxious lest his 
champion should by this controversy himself suffer in 
popularity, he wrote on December 23rd, 1869 : 

" Your welcome letter has come just as Craven called 
in this morning to complete, in the shape of a cheque, two 
fresh and valuable commissions which this truly satisfac- 
tory man has given me again. 

" We have been so busy here, and somewhat anxious 
and bothered to boot, that we have contemplated the 
approach of Christmas with little thoughts of festivity. 
We have had no prospects of anyone being disengaged to 
dine with us that day, and this must to some extent 
account for our not thinking of you sooner. But indeed 
you must come yet. Mrs. Brown and all the family are 
quite determined that you shall. Put up a few things in 
a bag and come at once on receipt of this. 

" Knowing how you have served us once before, when 
you let me Know after, that tin alone had prevented you 
from coming, I make bold to enclose a cheque which I 
dare say you can get cashed at Manchester. So don't be 
grumpy but come ; it will do you good, and you will work 
all the better for it on getting back to your studio. 

" I read your letter to the paper with infinite pleasure 

136 



MADOX BROWN AND ROSSETTI 137 

and gratitude ; only if I had been present to be asked, I 
should have advised you not to move in the matter on 
your own account ; but of all this and more we will talk 
when you come. Should I say too much now you will 
have the less inducement. 

" I have had no time yet to go to your Winter Exhibi- 
tion, so that I cannot speak of your works ; but I have 
heard them spoken of by others, some of them with 
enthusiasm." 

Rossetti, evidently pleased with the letter to the press, 
stirred up Mr. Sidney Colvin to follow Shields' example, 
and wrote : 

" I was very glad to see your capital move in respect 
to Brown's picture at Manchester. I sent it on to Colvin 
at once, and to-day he writes me word that he has written 
to the Manchester Examiner. I sent on your letter to 
him in such a hurry (being at work) that I only read it 
once, and forgot what you said as to your health ; but, in 
fact, do not think you said much about it. I hope there 
was nothing bad to say. Graham's conduct (this part I 
carefully scored out so much as the first sheet contained 
in sending your letter to C.) seems to me most extra- 
ordinary, considering how invariably and excellently well 
he has behaved to myself, and the personal and artistic 
esteem I have heard him express for you. He is, I believe, 
now permanently in town again with his family. ... I 
shall be very glad to have the chance of telling him what 
I think. I have been in various queer states of health 
for some time past. My visit to Scotland seemed to do 
me no good this time. I have just lately been calling on 
doctors and oculists again, and the latter still say my 
sight is not really affected ; while the former say much the 
same as to my health, but speak most warningly as to 
hours, exercise, and abstinence from spirits, for which 
Heaven knows I have no taste, but had for a year and 
a half just fallen into the constant habit of resorting to 
them at night to secure sleep. I have now relinquished 
them entirely, and take only at night a medicine prescribed 
by my last doctor (Sir W. Jenner) not an opiate, against 



138 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

which he warned me in all forms and have certainly not 
slept worse, but rather better, since doing so. I also, when 
weather is fine, take day walks in Battersea Park ; whereas 
my habits had long been to walk only at nights except 
when in the country. For many months I have done no 
painting or drawing, but have just lately resumed work of 
this kind, and am proceeding as best I may against the 
stream of models, wno cannot be got or do not come, pitch 
black days, &c., with such things as I want to be doing. 
These are chiefly the large picture of Dante's Dream, 
which I had not yet taken m hand since getting the 
commission from Graham ; and (!!!) the old picture of 
' Found ' (the calf and bridge subject), which I am actu- 
ally taking up at last. I nave lots of time as yet in 
preliminary studies for both works ; but hope to get the 
man's heaa done in the ' Found ' next week, having found 
a splendid model, and have also made considerable way 
towards the bridge background. I am also beginning to 
make studies again for the picture of ' Medusa,' and hope 
to get that in hand as soon as the others are fairly under 
way. Had I a large fine studio, I should now get all my 
finest subjects squared out from the designs on canvases 
of the size needed, and take them all up one after the 
other whenever possible. This plan I shall pursue vigor- 
ously more or less now, as life wears short, and do I trust 
few single figure pictures except when shut out from other 
work by the chances of the hour. Studio-building I have 
funked hitherto, as the state of my health has induced 
me to think I might be leaving Chelsea, just after I had 
got the stables into my possession. I think it most likely, 
however, that I shall begin building shortly after Xmas, 
as the landlord has demanded that, failing that, I should 
put the stables in repair as stables, which would be simply 
throwing money in the dirt. I have been doing a good 
deal of work in poetry lately, and shall publish a volume 
in the sprint. I have got 230 pages in print, and want 
perhaps to add about 100 more. This is hardly necessary, 
as it is all very close and careful work ; but I daresay it 
may be some time before I print again, if ever I should 
wish to do so. At any rate, so much will be off my mind 
when the thing comes out, and it is certainly the best 



ROSSETTI'S LETTERS 139 

work of my life, such as that has been. Have you seen 
Morris's new volume of the Paradise. It contains glorious 
things, especially the ' Lovers of Gudrun.' Tennyson's 
new volume does not enlist my sympathies, except a 
second ' Northern Farmer/ which is wonderful ; and of 
course there is much high-class work throughout. 

" I have not seen your heads at the Water-Colour ; nor 
indeed do I ever go to any picture shows whatever now, 
except once in the year to the R.A. Old Brown is doing 
a water-colour (Don Juan found on the beach by Haidee), 
which will I think be almost the finest of his works, 
and certainly by far the most full of beauty. Indeed, to 
my mind all eight figures are eminently beautiful in face 
and figure, and the background of rocks and sea is most 
fascinating. 

" Ned Jones is doing a crowd of splendid works, though 
he has sent no sketches to the gathering this time. He 
was one of the hangers." 

Madox Brown's cheque did not avail to persuade 
Shields to spend Christmas in London, and the New Year 
found him still at Cornbrook, with an occasional visit to 
Winnington. In April Rossetti wrote asking Shields to 
help him about a photograph. All his toil with M'Lachlan 
had given Shields a really extensive knowledge of photog- 
raphy, and though he always professed his detestation of 
the art he would not even have allowed it to be called 
an art at all this experience was undoubtedly very useful, 
and enabled him to be of great service to his friends. In 
after years he took endless trouble for Rossetti, superin- 
tending the photography of his pictures and correcting 
negatives and proofs with the utmost patience and devo- 
tion to his friend's interest. 



SCALANDS, ROBEBTSBRIDGE, SUSSEX, 
llth April 1870. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Some time back I wrote to a Mr. 
Mitchell, of Manchester, who possesses that " Venus " of 



140 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

mine with the roses and honeysuckles, to ask if he would 
object to its being photographed ; and I ventured to name 
you as a friend who I thought would be willing, out of 
consideration for me, to superintend its removal, photo- 
graphing, and return to its owner. I proposed to save 
you such trouble by having the loan of it in London ; but 
to this you will see, by the letter I enclose, he objects. So 
if you will kindly undertake this for me, I will be much 
obliged. Any convenient moment to yourself would, of 
course, do. You will see I am writing from the country, 
and having none of my photos by me, cannot give you a 
precise idea of the size I want it done. But you have 
seen some of them and know the sort of size fairly large, 
and, of course, deep tones. Your friend of the Lancashire 
Committee photo; would, I should think, be the very man to 
make a fine thing of it if worth his while to take the 
trouble. Of course it is at my expense, not Mr. Mitchell's. 
One difficulty occurs to me, and that is, that there is a 
gold nimbus round the head. I wonder if some white 
powder of some sort could be rubbed over this, or whether 
there is nothing for it but to let it come black. I hope 
you will get my volume of poems towards the end of this 
month, as I have given your name to the publisher. I 
shall like to know now it pleases you. There is one piece 
called " Jenny," which gave Smetham a shock when I read 
it to him ; but I was sincerely surprised on the whole at 
its doing so in his case, though I Know many people will 
think it unbearable. I myself have included it (as I wrote 
it) after mature consideration, and could not alter my own 
impression of the justness of my doing so, knowing as I do 
how far from aggressive was the spirit in which I produced 
it, as I should think the poem itself ought to show. 

I saw your newspaper controversy about Brown some 
time ago, and thought your part in it excellent. You 
seem to have a large share of this sort of power, which has 
grown to be almost a national instinct. 

I will not write more, as I am not given much to letter- 
writing at present. I need hardly say that my health 
brought me here, and that means that there is not much 
to boast of. I hope you can give a better account of 
yourself. Your affectionate D. G. ROSSETTI. 



ROSSETTFS LETTERS 141 

Rossetti had offered to let Shields work in his studio, 
and apparently Shields now contemplated a visit to London. 
Rossetti's next letter is undated, but was probably a week 
or so later than the last. 

SCALAN0S, Saturday. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I shall be delighted for you to work 
at Cheyne Walk, but am not returning just now. How- 
ever, I shall be on a flying visit for an hour or two or a 
day or two (I don't know which) about Saturday, 23rd. I 
write with this to Dunn to expect you ; he is doing some 
big work for me which may possibly be taking up the 
whole space in the studio, but m that case I dare say the 
little studio upstairs would serve you. However, probably 
the large one will be at your service. I don't think the 
" Venus " photo should be bigger than about the size of this 
sheet opened out at biggest. I see you're frightened of 
poor " Jenny," my poem, but I assure you I was surprised 
at Smetham's galvanic alarm, and shall be sincerely so if 
you share it. The poem was written in a far different 
spirit from any which should produce such results in 
thinking men, I believe. 

Pardon haste, but I am very busy to-day. 



There was evidently some difficulty about photograph- 
ing the "Venus"; apparently through the fault of the 
owner of the picture, for Rossetti writes months later : 

June 15th, 1870. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Have you been able to do anything 
about the photo of that picture of Venus ? Your affec- 
tionate D. G. ROSSETTI. 

P.S. Do you know if the brothers Agnew have 
really got to hear of that blessed rhyme ? I might wish 
to be writing them, but shouldn't if I thought they were 
riled. 



142 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

The " blessed rhyme " was one of Rossetti's nonsense 
verses the slightly modified version of this choice 
specimen given by Shields is as follows: 

" There are two bad brothers named Agnew 
Whose lies would make e'en an old nag new ; 
The father of lies, with his tail to his eyes, 
Cries ' Go it, Tom Agnew, Bill Agnew.' " 

Very perfect of its kind, but hardly calculated to pre- 
judice the picture-dealers in Rossetti's favour. 

Shields was evidently suffering much in health and 
spirits at this period, and no doubt his inability to serve 
his friend in the matter of the photographer troubled him. 
Rossetti wrote again in August : 

"I cannot easily thank you enough for so much 
friendliness under such very troublesome circumstances. 
I now regret extremely that I did not write on receipt of 
your former letter, as I meant to do, to beg you to take 
no further trouble in a matter which presented such un- 
expected obstacles. But I delayed doing so through 
excessive preoccupation at the moment, and then thought 
that it was no use writing, as further steps were probably 
already being taken. I can now only say that I could 
never have conceived, from Mr. MitcnelPs very straight- 
forward conduct on former occasions, that he was capable 
of so much changeableness and disregard of his word. I 
do not like to make a cause of quarrel with him (after 
very agreeable relations hitherto) out of a matter which, 
in itself, is of no importance to me ; but am excessively 
irritated at having been led on by him into causing you 
so much disturbance, and on that account write him with 
this- to express my surprise at his conduct. As far as I 
myself am concerned, it is well the matter is no more im- 
portant than it is; but I feel how much apology I owe 
you for this unpleasantness which I could not have 
foreseen. 

" I wish I could say something to any good purpose on 
what gives me great anxiety, the infinitely more im- 



ROSSETTI'S LETTERS 143 

portant matter of your own affairs to which you make 
some allusion, and which, I assure you, already often 
occurred to my mind. . . . Nothing could give me greater 
pleasure than being able, should such opportunity occur, 
to be of any service to yourself who have so often served 
me so warmly and at the cost of so much personal exer- 
tion. Is there any way suggesting itself to your own 
mind by which I could be of the least use in forwarding 
any object you have in view? If there were, the very 
friendliest thing you could do would be to let me know. 
Of your health you do not specially speak, nor do I 
gather clearly whether what you say of your ' suffering ' 
from this truly atrocious and insufferable war related 
simply to what all must feel, or to more direct influences 
of a baneful kind on your own immediate prospects. Such 
would doubtless be a possible result for any of us, as there 
is no knowing the moment at which entrenchment may 
be forced upon the wealthy classes of this country by the 
state of affairs abroad, or even at home, and naturally Art 
goes first to the wall. 

" You allude in the kindest way to my poetry, and say 
also that you would like to write me something about 
'Jenny.' Pray believe that anything coming from you 
could only be what I should sincerely desire to hear, 
whatever its point of view ; only I really think there must 
be too many affairs of your own to attend to, for it to be 
worth your while to dwell on my verses except by word 
of mouth when we meet again, which it would please me 
much to hope might be soon. The book has prospered 
quite beyond any expectations of mine, though just lately 
signs of depreciation have been apparent in the press 
(Blackwood, to wit). I am only surprised that nothing of 
a decided kind in the way of opposition should have 
appeared before. However, I have also been surprised 
(and pleasantly) to find such things producing a much 
more transient and momentary impression of unpleasant- 
ness than I should have expected indeed I might almost 
say none at all; particularly as I cannot help, in this 
instance, putting against the Blackwood article the fact 
that B. & Co. wished to publish the book and I went else- 
where. But above all, these things probably do not touch 



144 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

me much for the reason that my mind is now quite 
occupied with my painting, and has been for some time 
past. I am making very rapid progress with my large 
picture of' Dante's Dream,' about 10 or 11 feet by 7. A 
big picture is glorious work, really rousing to every faculty 
one nas or even thought one might have, and I hope I am 
doing better in this tnan hitherto. In another fortnight 
or so, I shall have all the figures painted on the canvas, 
and only the glazing of the draperies left to do. The 
background is as yet untouched, and before I resume the 
picture, after bringing it to the completion of the figures 
as above, I intend to go for a month or so into the country 
to recruit. However, though I have been working 
decidedly hard, I find that it chiefly seems to have the 
effect of consolidating and steadying the beneficial results 
which my spring trip to the country had already had on 
my health. I am not at present sensible of any incon- 
venience with my eyes, though working good hours daily, 
and have not been for months past. I have often spoken 
with Brown about you, and I need not tell you wnat a 
constant interest he takes in all that concerns you. He 
himself is, I am glad to think, doing well at present, and 
is just thinking of an excursion to Newcastle, and perhaps 
to the Highlands, in company with his wife. He lately 
finished his large oil picture of ' Romeo and Juliet,' but I 
did not see it, as he would not show it while in progress, 
and most stealthily and surreptitiously spirited it away at 
the last moment to Leathart, who is its possessor. I be- 
lieve, however, it is one of his best works. . . . 

" You probably know of Burne- Jones' having left the 
O.W.C. Society, but probably will be surprised to near that 
Burton has now done so also. I believe B. finds it 
necessary to take larger work, and thinks such scale 
better suited to oil ; but his warm feeling on Jones' behalf 
in the differences occurring between him and the Society 
has doubtless led to his taking the step at this particular 
moment. . . . 

" Let me again beg of you, before I conclude, that you 
will tell me without the slightest reserve of any wav that 
may occur to you in which I could serve you at all. To 
know that you were happier would be a real encourage- 
ment to me." 



CHALK DRAWINGS 145 

In the autumn of 1870 was made the chalk drawing 
" A Royal Princess," the subject being taken from Christina 
Rossetti's noble poem. The picture was bought by Sir 
William Houldsworth. In the Graphic, December 17th, 
1870, was reproduced the large water-colour of "Knott 
Mill Fair." On November 29th an interesting entry is 
on the only page preserved of the diary for this year : 
" Alteration to ' Hide.' To town to see Agnew's exhibition. 
Mounted Falkner's drawing. Head of Matilda on green 
paper rather a failure." 

Matilda Booth, then aged about twelve years, was 
destined to be the artist's wife. "Hide" was a water- 
colour, bought by Mr. Craven. 

In the New Year Rossetti writes : 

" Your letter was, as you knew beforehand, a real relief 
to me. It drives away the uneasy feeling inevitable lately 
whenever your friendly image recurred to my mind, and 
substitutes a satisfactory one. I can readily imagine with 
what joy you will attack your favourite subject after a long 
being kept at bay of it, and have no doubt of good results. 
As to the Water-colour Gallery, your work would draw 
me there if anything would, but I must say frankly that 
I do not expect to get there. I have got into such an 
absolute and undeviating habit of working all daylight 
somehow whether on just the work I want to do or not 
that I literally never go anywhere except once in the 
year to the R.A. modern exhibition, and once nowadays 
to the Old, which I have not yet accomplished this year. 
I lately saw at Graham's your two chalk drawings of 
Night and Morning, and thought them full of fine quality 
and more decided in sense of facial beauty than any pre- 
vious work I had seen of yours. I find now that it was 
quite a mistake to draw on that dark blue grey paper. It 
necessitated endless work to keep the ground down, and 
even to the last it always came through. The greenish 
paper (from Winsor & Newton specimen enclosed) is 
much the best for the purpose which the English makers 
afford I have tried several. Unfortunately the rule is 

K 



146 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

that as in France they never make a bad tint whether 
cheap or dear, in England they never make a good one. 
This, however, has no decided objection when covered, 
except that I very much regret to say it has a tendency 
to fade and turn yellow in parts. I aon't know whether 
this is likely to cause any decided injury to the drawing, 
or whether it would go further underneath the chalic. 
Sometimes the paper seems to hold out for good, and 
sometimes to go in this way in spots almost at once. I 
have complained to W. & N., and they said they had 
heard of it before, and referred to the makers, who say it 
cannot be guarded against with this tint. However, there 
is really no other tint tit to use, so I go on with it. 

" I'm glad Mitchell has expressed to you some sense of 
his being in the wrong. I expressed to him very de- 
cidedly by letter the awkward position in which he had 
placed me towards you after all the trouble you so kindly 
took. I should really hesitate to mix you up with the 
matter again, even if you were kindly willing. Perhaps 
the best thing would be to see if he will lend the picture 
to show with the large one when finished, and a few others 
recently completed, when I shall be asking friends to come 
and see. It could then be photographed at the same 
time. I don't suppose I shall get up any kind of public 
show this year, but most likely next only of a few weeks 
and shall then have one other large one at least ready 
I hope the ' Magdalene.' The big 'Dante ' is approaching 
completion, but won't, I suppose, be done quite so soon as 
I thought, as I knocked on lately to finish several other 
things long on hand viz. Beatrice, Sybylla Palmifera, 
and Mariana with boy singing (Measure for Measure), all 
of which, you may remember, begin as life-sized things. 
These three are finished, and I am now finishing ' Pan- 
dora.' I think all show great advance in colour and 
execution, and that the big picture will be much the best 
thing I have done, in spite of the dissatisfaction accom- 
panying without fail the close of a work, and now be- 
ginning to set in with me. Perfect it won't be, but better 
it will be. 

" I have heard from Mr. M'Connell about his water- 
colour, asking if it was sold again. I mislaid his letter 



CORNBROOK THREATENED 147 

with address and have not answered, but it is no use my 
writing letters about it till sold, which is not as yet. 
Hardly any one comes to my place now, as I have so long 
been engaged on work which I decline to show, and 
people have got sick of my sulks. 

" I've not seen dear old Smetham for centuries, but 
must try and do so. I'm glad he's stood by you, as I 
knew he would not fail to do if possible. I feel as if I 
chiefly among your friends had not succeeded in being of 
any service to you in your time of trial, after all the good 
turns you have done me. . . . 

" Scott showed me a letter of yours in a Manchester 
paper sent to him, where his name occurred in a manner 
so well deserved, and I am sure gratifying to him. What 
a horrid set they seem to be there ! Scott is my near 
neighbour now, having bought Bellevue House, a very 
fine old mansion twice as big as this and just opposite 
Battersea Bridge. He is a great acquisition. And by 
the bye, I may as well just mention, in case you had any 
thought of returning to London, that Scott has a separate 
building at the back of his house (very noiseless, I should 
think) admirably fitted for a studio, but which he does 
not use at all, having a good one in the house. I should 
think (though I don't know at all) that he might possibly 
be willing to let it to a quiet congenial inmate like your- 
self. Boyce, as I dare say you know, has built himself a 
house (by Webb) at the end of Cheyne Row, so Chelsea 
is gradually filling." 

Depression and ill-health continued during the early 
part of this year ; one great trouble was that the secluded 
old house in which Shields hoped he had found a per- 
manent abode was wanted for Government offices. He 
began to be much agitated as to his coming eviction; 
this probably was the cause of the illness alluded to in 
Madox Brown's next letter, dated July 6th. 

" I have this moment received your kind and sad letter. 
I shall not write a long one in return, but just tell you 
that I shall remember to communicate with Rossetti and 



14S LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Smetham. You can imagine how much we are all pained 
at such bad news of your health, and how fervently we 
trust it will improve with the fine air of Argyllshire. . . . 
We are about to proceed to Dartmouth, in Devonshire, 
for four weeks. Once there, I will write again with our 
address. But cannot your friend who is with you write 
for you and say how you are ? If it is M'Lachlan, give 
him my kindest regards, and say I should be much 
obliged by a line saying how you are." 

There is no record of any Scotch visit, except two or 
three undated sketches of Highlanders, and Madox 
Brown's next letter, which seems to point to such a 
journey having been taken. 

LYNN COTTAQB, LYNMOUTH, DEVON, 
26th July 1871. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I feel very anxious to know how 
you are getting on, your last letter was so discouraging 
in tone. Please let some one write if only a line just to 
say how you are. We have been here just two weeks on 
the north coast of Devonshire. It is a most lovely spot, 
but we find it the reverse of bracing. . . . Rossetti is down 
in Oxfordshire, William Rossetti gone to Italy, Morris to 
Iceland, everyone somewhere. We shall be back in 
London this day fortnight. This is one of the places 
Shelley was at with his wife Harriet, when he was about 
eighteen and she sixteen. We have found an old woman 
who remembers them perfectly. I am going to draw her ; 
Miss Blind is to make an article about her. We have got 
some new facts from her. All unite with me in hoping 
you may be much better by this time. Let me hear 
something before long. I have lost your Scotch address, 
so have to address to Manchester. 

In October Shields was again searching for a new 
house, uncertain whether to stay in Manchester or again 
try London, which had now so many attractions for him. 
At one time Liverpool seemed a likely place, and various 



MADOX BROWN'S ADVICE 149 

secluded spots were recommended to him by different 
friends. To one of his temperament the fact of his being 
obliged to leave the house which suited him so well was 
quite sufficient to account for his having been " much 
disturbed," as Madox Brown says in his next letter, dated 
October 18th, 1871. 

" Many thanks for your kind, long letter, which I am 
afraid cost you more trouble than I deserve, but I was 
just getting anxious at hearing nothing of or from you. 
I hope you will fix on coming to town, now that you have 
given up your lodgings house, I mean. I do not see 
that you have any advantages in Manchester which you 
might not have in London, and I believe you might get 
chambers either in the Temple or some of the Inns of 
Court, where you might be perfectly quiet and at less 
expense than you have been in your house. Will you not 
pay us a visit before deciding ? I ought to have pressed 
this on you before, but I did not know (from your letters) 
if it would have been good for you ; and I have been very 
much absorbed of late in my own bothers, so that the 
time has slipped away. 

" You seem to have been much disturbed of late in some 
way or other, but I shall not trouble you with questions 
and leave it to you to explain matters, if you care to do 
so, when we meet. 

" Rossetti has nearly finished his great work and 
written a deal more poetry. The picture is, as you sur- 
mise, a perfect success ; at least it is becoming so within 
the last few days. At first when I saw it, some three 
months ago, it was admirable as to the figures and in all 
separate parts, but the general effect was very unsatis- 
factory ; now it is coming quite right. 

"As to the Benzine process you ask about, I must tell 
you that it is quite given up by Gabriel and myself as a 
process. However, for rapidly laying in a large picture, 
a la Watts, it certainly does offer advantages, but not all 
those it was boasted of possessing. An absorbing ground 
is the first consideration, yet this is no absolute necessity ; 
next, some white and other colours, rather stiffish, is con- 



150 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

sidered desirable, but by no means indispensable. You 
may put such colours as you most use for laying in on 
blotting-paper, and so stiffen them. The most important 
matter is to mix your quantum of benzine for the day 
with one-eighth part of oil, and shake it well up in a little 
bottle. This prevents it all flying off into the air, to your 
danger and detriment. You must be careful with your 
benzine not to put it open under a light, as the whole 
may explode and burn you up. 

" There is nothing else 01 much importance. If you 
trust too much to benzine and do not use enough medium 
or varnish, your work will either wash off or crack off, as 
many of Watts' have done." 



The above suggests that Shields was now experiment- 
ing in oils, but he also produced several water-colours this 
year, including a portrait of Miss Carver, " Sweet Mary," 
and "Calypso" (both purchased by Mr. M'Connell), an 
" Angel of the Annunciation," and two or three drawings 
for Punch ; the largest of these, however, was not pub- 
lished until 1875. 

It must have been somewhat hard for him to decide 
the rights and wrongs of the " hobble " Rossetti now de- 
scribes! Mr. Craven was certainly entitled to a little 
sympathy. 

16 CHEYNE WALK, 

15*A Not: 1871. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I was very glad, as always, to hear 
from you at such friendly length and to such friendly 
purpose. I wish heartily you were here, for a selfisn 
reason as well as for others ; for I should take a thorough 
pleasure in showing you my large picture, as the only 
thing (with all its faultiness) in wnich I ever tried com- 
pletely to test (by unflinching efforts to get a work on a 
good scale right in the end) what my powers for the time 
being might be. It is really much better, I know, than 
anvtning I have done yet, though I am very far from 
being blind to its shortcomings. I am about immediately 




HM +J 

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O a$ 

I ' 

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i-l 'S 



ROSSETTI, CRAVEN, AND KELMSCOTT 151 

to get on other large work, and hope to make a further 
step in advance. 

Your mention of Mr. Craven induces me to detail to 
you (though distasteful enough) a stupid misunderstand- 
ing which seems to have arisen between us. I long ago 
engaged to do him a drawing of Beatrice, price 300 guineas, 
which (to make a long story short) was to liquidate to the 
extent of its price some advances made at intervals on 
work since abandoned, though on its delivery a sum (70) 
would still remain payable by me, either in work (as origi- 
nally intended) or in money. Craven behaved capitally 
in not troubling me in the least about this drawing for a 
long while (knowing that it could not be finished till the 
original oil picture, of which it was a replica, should be 
out of hand), but having some six months ago, or perhaps 
more, called here and seen the oil picture then just finished, 
he asked me when he might expect the water-colour, and I 
told him " before long." However, every experiment I 
have made for some time in water-colour has proved to 
me that it suits my eyes much less than oil painting ; and 
some little time after, on his making further enquiry by 
letter, I told him that on this account I felt rather disposed 
to pay back the money instead of delivering the drawing, 
and proposed a plan of doing so by bills stretching over 
some time. This he declined, and proposed instead that 
I should pay him the sum (which was in itself larger than 
I, writing then from the country, had thought) by two 
bills bearing interest within a short time. This was out 
of the question with me, and I therefore undertook to 
finish the drawing and deliver it in three months from last 
5th August (the date of writing). This I have done, with 
a few days' delay only, agreed to by him for the advan- 
tage of tne work in finishing. At the same time I sent 
him a cheque for 30, thinking (mistakenly) that this was 
the surplus sum owing, which he now informs me (quite 
correctly, as I find) is 70. Of course I shall pay him the 
additional 40 as soon as may be, either by money or 
work ; but he now, to my complete surprise, again raises 
the question of interest (a thing never spoken of at all 
when the advances were made), and actually proposes to 
charge it not only on the outstanding 70, but also on the 



152 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

sum paid for by delivery of the drawing of Beatrice. Of 
course this proposal I cannot entertain for a moment. 
How he comes to make it I am at a loss to conceive, but 
must suppose that temper has somehow got the better of 
him. I regret extremely getting into these stupid hobbles 
with him not from motives of interest (as I am not likely 
to be doing more water-colours, or therefore to have him 
as a customer), but because he always behaved in a friendly 
and liberal spirit all along, and it seems absurd that a 
reasonable intercourse should close in this unreasonable 
manner. Thus far this unpleasant business. The drawing 
of Beatrice sent to Manchester he has not yet seen, as he 
is at Brighton. It is probably the best water-colour I 
ever did, but I should not be at all surprised if, in his 
present mood, he were to prove dissatisfied with it. That, 
of course, I could not help, were it to be so. 

What you tell me about the " Princess " drawing does 
not surprise me. I sold it to a dealer, and did not finish 
it in the way I should have done had it been for Craven, 
for whom I always endeavoured to do my best. As 
for taking it up again, life is short and might I think 
be better employee!, though had Craven asked me to 
do so at any time, I would have looked at the drawing 
and worked on it if I saw my way to do so. This letter 
has got long already, and I dont much know what to 
write about, though there would be a thousand things to 
talk about if we were together. I was away in the 
country three months, at a house which I took jointly 
with Morris, on the banks of the Thames at Kelmscott, 
Oxon. There those verses you write so kindly about 
were suggested, with other writing of a more elaborate 
kind, and I also did some painting there. The house and 
its immediate belongings are a perfect paradise, and the 
place peaceful even to excess. It is an Elizabethan house 
quite unaltered, and my studio was hung with tapestry 
which no doubt had been always in it. I wish you could 
find such a place within artistic limits. It is a most 
anxious matter, with your special necessities, to find a 
new nest now you have unluckily lost the old one. Of 
course I feel ^'nclined to advise London again, but the 
matter is much too serious for inclination to govern it, 



THE HEYWOOD PRIZE 153 

and I am quite uncertain whether such a move would be 
good or bad for you. 

You do not tell me of your work, but I judge you 
must be engaged on the good commissions you told me 
of some time back, and of which I then rejoiced to hear. 

Things go on the same as ever in London. Everyone 
works, and hardly anyone sees the other's work more than 
if many counties lay between them every man having 
his own daily groove, and the cross roads being somehow 
of rare occurrence. Dear old Smetham I have not seen 
for ages, though I did correspond a little with him when 
in the country. However, week by week I project 
tempting him from his distant entrenchment to see my 
pictures, and shall really do so ere long. Good-bye, my 
dear Shields, I hope our really seeing each other again 
before we are much older is not quite out of the question. 
Ever yours, D. G. ROSSETTI. 

In December Frederic Shields was awarded the Hey- 
wood Prize for his picture " After the Storming," then 
exhibited at the Manchester Institution. A rough draft 
of a letter of acknowledgment, dated Cornbrook Park, 
December 7th, 1871, says, "This resolution of the Council 
comes as a great surprise, rousing, I may say, shame 
in me that it is not better supported by the inherent 
excellence of my work. I beg to thank the Council and 
to express my hope that the principle of allotting the 
prize to a local painter may be tried for another year, 
in the trust that the experiment may prove stimulating 
to a noble emulation and the production of works of 
higher aim among our young artists, often struggling 
with poverty. To them such a prize would afford the 
leisure to work independently for a time, of the necessity 
for painting such subjects and in such a style, as to 
command the readiest market in a country where the 
average taste of picture buyers is very low." 



CHAPTER X 

Ordsall Old Hall Hermit life Rossetti's illness Crisis at Wilmington 
Holding and Davis Modern improvements threaten Insomnia 
M'Lacblan again The young model The amazing marriage Off to 
Blackpool. 

AFTER much searching and doubt, Shields discovered 
another strange and lonely old house in Manchester 
called Ordsall Old Hall. In Manchester Faces and Places, 
August 1897, we are told " The hide of land on which 
Ordsall Hall stands was formerly the property of Edward 
the Confessor, and was bounded by the clear waters of 
the Irwell. It was once the home of the Radcliffe family, 
who took their name, it is said, from a red sandstone 
cliff which overlooked the river, and which was sometimes 
called Rougemont, a name often used by members of 
the family. A noble residence for a man of rank, in 
the days of Richard III., it had fallen from its high 
estate, but was (in 1872) still a thing of beauty, with four 
gables, oriel windows, great hall with magnificent open 
roof, and moat. The city has now closed in upon it ; but 
happily it is being restored by its owner, Lord Egerton." 

In one wing of this vast and dilapidated relic of 
the splendours of Richard III., Frederic Shields took up 
his solitary existence, an old woman daily was his sole 
attendant, though in a year or two she was replaced 
by various more or less incompetent successors dignified 
by the name of "housekeepers." Here he continued 
working, chiefly at water-colour, paying an occasional 
visit to London, staying for a few nights either with 

154 



ROSSETTI'S ILLNESS 155 

Rossetti or Madox Brown, and visiting Ilkley in the 
spring of 1872. 

Madox Brown wrote on July 17th : 



" I am quite overwhelmed with shame when I look at 
the date of your letter, but when I explain the nature 
of my silence, you, with your forgiving nature, will be 
more ready to excuse me than I can be myself. 

"About the time you wrote (12th May), I had already 
lost a considerable amount of time, owing to repeated 
attacks of rheumatism, and before I had time to answer 
your long, kind letter, a matter of a quite new kind sprang 
up whicn completely shut up my time and attention. 
You know in your letter you ask for particular informa- 
tion as to Christina Rossetti, whom you had heard to 
be in the extreme or hopeless state ; this was an exaggera- 
tion, she was not and has not been dying, so to speak, 
though as ill as any one can well be without being 
in articulo mortis, but since she has been better, but is 
now again worse. However, now I come to what must 
be a profound secret between us, and that is the state 
of her brother Gabriel. He is at present in Scotland with 
Dr. Hake, the poet, and his son. I and the younger 
Hake went down with him three or four weeks ago. I 
stayed eight days and left him with W. B. Scott and 
G. Hake. Now Dr. Hake has replaced Scott and to-day 
I have from him the first letter of a really hopeful kind 
that has reached us from Scotland. You must know 
that Gabriel for the last two years has been, without our 
noticing it, subject to slight fits of eccentricity, partaking 
of the nature of delusions, he had also been sleeping 
worse and worse and taking enormous doses of chloral 
every night about the time of that horrid Buchanan 
pamphlet called the Fleshly School of Poetry. This state, 
owing to the irritation consequent on that libel, reached 
a state of development, accompanied by a kind of fit 
(which, by the bye, was falsely represented to us and 
his family as being hopelessly irrecoverable in its nature 
you may judge of his poor mother's, and indeed all our 
feelings) that rendered it unsafe to leave him alone. 



156 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

I was some days at Cheyne Walk with him. Some days 
ago we brougnt him here and then at last I got him off 
to Scotland and went with him. There his state physically 
did improve; sleep gradually began to return and with 
less chloral (for they dared not leave it off) his walking 
powers returned, for the fit had left him with a lame 
leg. The gloomy black temper and the delusions, which 
were to the purpose that the whole world was in a con- 
spiracy against him, with the exception of a few friends, 
did not give way, rather the reverse but to-day Dr. 
Hake writes the first hopeful letter and we have every 
reason to expect that as his mental state is not of the 
worst kind, that in three or four months he will be all 
right again and at work. . . . 

" I have, perhaps, news of my own that might interest 
you, but I nave little time left this morning to write 
it. I am painting Fawcett, the blind Member, and his 
wife in one picture for Sir Charles Dilke quite a pathetic 
looking group. My large ' Don Juan ' has also made some 
progress. Nolly has written a novel and is engaged on 
another, but this is strictly a secret betwixt us. He has 
developed an astounding genius in this line. He is only, 
you know, seventeen. Cathy is to be married the first week 
in September. We are all pretty well in health now 
but I have not found time to go to a single exhibition, 
yours included. Craven knows that D. G. has been ill 
but nothing else ... so be on your guard. 

" Now as to yourself, my dear Shields, pray how goes 
it ? Write, I beg you, at once on receipt of this and don't 
imitate my bad example, unless, indeed, you have as good 
an excuse. I lost more than four weeks' work with 
Gabriel and have been overwhelmed with business ever 
since." 

In September a more cheerful letter announced 
Rossetti's recovery. 

Early in this year matters at Winnington had been 
approaching a crisis. Many letters from Ruskin, in his 
most forcible style, were addressed to Shields on the 
subject. Shields, as he wrote to Ruskin, strove hard to 



v 




A WINNINGTON GIRL 
Northwich, 1873 



CRISIS AT WINNINGTON 157 

maintain his faith in Winnington, but he admitted his 
inability to understand legal matters, or Miss Bell's ideas 
of finance. He felt that, unlike Ruskin, he had no per- 
sonal cause of complaint, having himself received nothing 
but kindness from Miss Bell, and as at this particular time 
of trial the life of Miss Bell's partner was to use Shields' 
words " hanging by a thread," he felt that he could not 
do anything but render them any encouragement and 
assistance that he was able to give. This probably led 
for a time to more or less estranged relations with Ruskin, 
who wrote exhorting Shields not to bother himself about 
anything but his work, and observed, " If I never hear 
anything more about Miss Bell or the money I shall be 
thankful." A pacifying reply from Shields drew a still 
more forcible note from Ruskin, and evidently "the 
subsequent proceedings interested him no more." 

Winnington was reconstructed soon after on a much 
smaller scale, at a house near Brighton called Winnington 
Pines, and entered the life of Shields at a later date. 

In the autumn of this year he was again plunged into 
another's woe by the death under very sad circumstances 
of a promising young Manchester artist named Holding, 
and at once solicited Madox Brown's help in getting up 
an exhibition of pictures to secure some provision for the 
widow. With his usual warm-hearted generosity Madox 
Brown replied on October 15th : 

" I have got answers from Hughes, Boyce, Jones, and 
D. G. R. ; they will all contribute something, and now 
strengthened with their names I will apply to Antony, 
Wallis, and Linnell. Lucy, Nolly, Edward Hughes, and 
Dunn will also contribute something. I trust you are not 
overdoing it in your zeal for this affair, and that you 
will not make yourself quite ill. . . . The accounts from 
Rossetti still confirm that he is perfectly restored to 
health." 



158 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Much correspondence passed about the Holding Fund 
the first of many similar undertakings originating with 
Shields or Brown. Early in the following year Shields 
again paid a visit to Fitzroy Square, and when he returned 
to Manchester, Madox Brown wrote on April 6th : 

" You will be glad to know that Brockbank called here 
the other day, and commissioned me for the ' Cromwell on 
his Farm ' for 400 guineas. At least I said guineas, but in 
his letter just received he puts it pounds, whether by 
accident or intention remains to be seen ; however we must 
not quarrel over this matter, so I have written to say that 
if he is quite of opinion that I said Pounds I must accept his 
impression as correct but do not mention it to him should 
you see him. Have you been talking to him since your 
return and so hastened his return here? In such case 
how much have I to thank you ! . . . I trust you are 
getting on all right with your pictures for this season's 
exhibition, and that they will do you good. From your 
manner I augur good things from them. I see they have 
elected Tadema to your society, this is at least a step in 
the right direction he was here the other night, a most 
genial Dutchman, and he did admire your Plague of 
London drawings excessively the only works he Knows 
as yet of yours. 

Another tragedy soon calls for assistance, the death 
of William Davis, a Liverpool artist. Madox Brown 
journeyed at once to Liverpool, whence he writes : 

" I have been here a few days chiefly occupied about 
the death of poor ' Liverpool ' Davis, who died suddenly 
in London last Tuesday week, and unexpectedly at the 
meeting of artists yesterday, I came upon your picture of 
the children and tne new boots. It is the only really tine 
picture in the room, and everybody is remarking on it, 
and I cannot tell you how it pleases me to see the great 
progress you are making. I should like to run over to 
Manchester, but to-morrow I must return to London. 



WILLIAM DAVIS 159 

This affair of poor Davis is awful, leaving ten children, 
widow, and widowed mother of Davis (twelve in all) 
totally unprovided for. but I am glad to see that the 
example of the Holding fund is having a good effect on 
them here, and the artists promise pictures for an Art 
Union, and the merchants are subscribing. You have in 
all such cases done more than your share, and I abstained 
from troubling you with news about it from the first 
intentionally." 

Shields had not waited to be asked, but had a 
picture all ready for the Art Union. Meanwhile, as the 
postscript to the next letter shows, he had another poor 
family on his hands in Manchester a bed-ridden man 
whose wife died leaving four children. 

In June Madox Brown wrote again : 

" Your silence, if it can be called such, does not sur- 
prise me I know that whatever the cause it is hardly 
ever on your own account, it is always about others that 
you are engrossed. Your care in having your own work 
already prepared (amid all your gratuitous bothers) is most 
praiseworthy and generous. . . . Kossetti, with whom I have 
been staying ten days, has contributed a most lovely chalk 
head Davis' last sJketches and landscapes are now almost 
ready for showing, and will be on view and on sale here soon. 
I must price them low, I suppose, but no doubt one day 
they will be thought much of. I suppose it would be of 
no use your speaking to the Agnews about them. They 
knew Davis and had even given him a commission, but 
I dare say they would not give a penny for these beautiful 
artistic sketches now. But should you know of anyone in 
Manchester likely to buy you might give the address. . . . 
Should Agnew care to call I am going away again to 
Kelmscott on Monday. Thanks for your most loyal 
pugnacity on my behalf, but for the present I think we 
had better both be peaceable like the French, for fear of 
worse. . . . 

" P.S. I have again forgotten your most unfortunate 
family. I enclose a pound lor them." 



160 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

This summer Shields again visited London, staying 
with the Browns, and a letter from G. F. Watts, dated 
August 16th, invited him to Little Holland House. 

In September he returned to Ordsall Hall, evidently 
having expended rather than increased his means while in 
London. 

Madox Brown wrote on September 24th : 

"I am very much obliged by your fiver received 
safe the only thing that occurred to me at the time was 
that it was almost my last one, but you were welcome to 
it. The costumes are excellent and just what is required 
for Puritans only almost too simple and severe, almost 
to theatricality but I have no doubt correct. We hear 
this morning from Rossetti that George Hake was almost 
killed while bathing, by a young favourite dog that would 
climb on to his shoulders and bite his head, He was only 
saved by Nero, a large black retriever, which came and 
seized the other with admirable sense. The young one 
returned again and again to the attack possibly with 
the intention of pulling his master out of the water. He 
was shot immediately after. Glad to hear you are at 
work." 

Ordsall Hall began to be more noisy, and the neighbour- 
hood was being encroached upon by builders, to the detri- 
ment of the work and nervous system of the solitary 
tenant. 

In December 1873, Madox Brown wrote sympathetic- 
ally:- 

"I am very sorry to hear of the disaster that encom- 
passes you, and from the peculiar nature scarce know how 
to advise you. With one whose nerves were in a better 
condition I should say put up with it till you have done 
the pictures which require your presence in that locality, 
but in your case I suppose the noise and irritation is 
tantamount to a cessation of work altogether. In such 
case I can only speak as to what locality is likely to suit 



INSOMNIA 161 

you best, and it strikes me that your idea of Liverpool is 
by no means a bad one, for in the first place it is scarcely 
like leaving Manchester, and next it is making a lot more 
friends there, or perhaps only consolidating such as you 
know already but I conceive I could introduce you to 
some few that you don't yet know. It may seem cool 
perhaps of me not to exclaim rapturously, ' Come to 
London at once ' but you have already had my views on 
that head, and I before impressed you with their validity 
and sincerity. I was asking young Davis here as to the 
quietness of different neighbourhoods in Liverpool, but 
could not get much that was satisfactory in the way of 
information. There is a village called Hale two or three 
miles further up the Mersey than Speke same side as 
Liverpool, and just a short walk from the estuary, which 
there is like an inland sea. I am told this is a lovely 
spot, and its beauty decided young Davis to be a painter 
instead of a Catholic Priest, so it has some merits." 



Insomnia was again troubling Shields, and young 
Oliver Madox Brown now writes him an affectionate letter 
of advice on the subject, and maps out a weekly table of 
varied soporifics which might indeed inspire horror in any 
normal breast ! He cheerfully suggests " A dose of 
Chloral Monday, Sour milk Tuesday, Laudanum Wednes- 
days, on Thursday a little Spirits (Irish Whisky is best 
for sleep-producing purposes), while on Friday you might 
modestly content yourself with fifteen to twenty-five drops 
of Chlorodyne. In this way you would not grow hardened 
to any one of them, and each would retain its full power 
and proper efficiency." It is to be hoped that Shields did 
not follow the advice of his young friend, although much 
troubled at this time by various causes which gaye him 
anxious days and sleepless nights. 

Among other things M'Lachlan was again impor- 
tuning him for aid over another still larger undertaking, 
the "Royal Group" at Windsor Castle. This was to 

L 



162 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

include Queen Victoria and all her descendants in one 
colossal photograph, which, it was hoped, would really 
make the fortune of the photographer and all concerned 
in the production. Arthur Hughes, on hearing some time 
before of the project, wrote, " Fancy Mac actually fighting 
another! I am almost breathless with astonishment." 
This terrible photograph absorbed much of Frederic 
Shields' time for the next two years, and he described the 
work as " hateful slavery," to which he was only bound 
by his rash promise to M'Lachlan, whose whole life 
seemed to be hanging upon the enterprise. 

A diary was very irregularly kept for the eventful year 
of 1874 : 

" Dec. 31st, 1873 Went with Cissy to Watch Night 
service. Mr. Mason and Mr. Cousins spoke very earnestly 
on time and immediate decision." 

" Cissy " in every case refers to Matilda Booth, the 
young girl who was very constantly his model at this time, 
and who afterwards became his wife. 

"Jan. 1st. No work. To exhibition with Cissy, 
dined in town. 

"Jan. 2nd. Worked at 'Girl with Ball' and apple 
blossom. M'Lachlan dined here. 

"Jan. 8th. Thankful for wet morning, began work. 
Cissy troublesome. Ogden with his cart casting down 
wood at my gate quite upset me. Went into fiery passion, 
quite ill after. 

" Jan. Sth. Too ill to work. No dinner. Going out 
met Ogden, warned him that I should take action unless 
nuisance ceased. 

"Jan. 12th. Worked at M'Lachlan's enlargement 
until 5. Reviewed my life by my diaries, would I had 
kept them regularly. Mac came and I went over the 
photographs with him, selecting the best, till 10. 

"Jan. IQth. All day at M'Lachlan's enlargement. 



DIARY 163 

Then to town, afterwards to Ann Gibbs, very ill. She told 
me a terrible story of the mystery of her twelve past years. 
Is she sane ? I came home exhausted. 

"Jan. 25th. To Gibbs just in time to see dear Ann 
alive. Her death scene most bitter. Stayed with them 
till 10 worn out. 

" Jan. 2,7th. Fearfully tired. Worked at background 
of Mac's enlargement till 5.30 dined. Read Ruskin to 
Mac. Out to look for new Housekeeper till 9 P.M. 

" Feb. 1st. To Chapel with dear Edwin Gibbs, a heavy 
crape band round my hat. Revd. Williams preached on 
' Bring all the tithes ' a shocking worldly wise sermon. 

"Feb. 2nd. All day at Mac's enlargement. Young 
fellow called to ask my advice about his work. (Con- 
scientiously dissuaded him from art.) Dear Smetham 
came from Southport to see me till 3. To train with him 
at 4. To Club and then to teachers' meeting. Outvoted 
by the British workmen advocates. Mostly females there. 
Hunted for housekeeper again. 

"Feb. 10th. Mac's enlargement to 11. Big drawing 
of girl with ball till 5. Mac came, out with him and 
Cissy. Read History of David with Cissy." 

The diary continues irregularly until the end of the 
month. 

"Feb. 12th. Worked at Mac's enlargement. Cissy 
gone to Bolton, saw her to cab. 

" Feb. 28th. Started for the Isle of Man, from Liver- 
pool at 12. A fine passage, and welcome from the Lewis 
family. 

"March 2nd. Saw Nicholson's drawings. To Lewis' 
Gallery and a walk on the iron pier. Dined at 1. Then 
for a row to the Northern point of the bay. Fine crags. 
Back at 6. Took my first lesson on violin." 

The violin lessons were not continued, nor is it easy 
for anyone who knew Shields to imagine him as doing 



164 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

anything but writhe in agony over the sounds unavoidably 
made by a beginner on that instrument. 

He returned to Ordsall Hall on March llth, and 
shortly afterwards his housekeeper, Mrs. Walsh, was taken 
to the hospital ill. The diary is blank until : 

" April 10th. All the interval from my return from 
the Isle of Man at Mac's group. To Brockbank. Saw 
Madox Brown's grand picture of ' Cromwell on his Farm.' " 

The diary is blank until August. 

" August IQth. Mounted ' Roundhead's Wife,' coloured 
' Knott Mill Fair.' Made two designs for Abel Lewis. 

" August llth. A day of anxious irresolution with 
Cissy. Resolved at last and went to Mr. Codling, the 
minister at Irwell Street. Tea there, home 7. 

"August 15th. Married at Irwell Street Chapel. 
Revd. Mr. Codling. Off to Blackpool alone with Mac. 
Did me wonderful good. Thank God." 

The young bride, so strangely left on her wedding day, 
in the great empty house, to the care of the old house- 
keeper, was a girl of unusual beauty, with abundant 
auburn hair, finely cut features, and fair delicate com- 
plexion, the model, both before and after their marriage, 
for many of his most beautiful subjects. 

The previous year, when in London staying with Madox 
Brown, he wrote to her : 

Sunday, Augutt 4tA, 1873. 

MY BELOVED, I am anxious about you, surely I 
ought to have heard from you this morning if letters were 
delivered in London on Sunday but they are not the 
postman rests on this day, and so I must wait until to- 
morrow. You know how much I dislike writing letters, 
yet for you look how I have written this week. You 
might have spared me a few poor lines. I have just re- 
turned, having had to walk six miles to Chapel and back, 
and am too tired to write more than God Bless You. 
Take care of this poem, please, a good lady gave it to me 
and you will like it. Ever your own FREDERIC. 





THE ARTIST'S WIFE 
Painted in 1874 



THE AMAZING MARRIAGE 165 

When a year later they married, her age, according to 
the marriage certificate, was only sixteen, he was forty. 
A life of rigorous self-denial, intense religious devotion, 
seclusion from worldly frivolities of every kind, and a 
necessarily rigid economy in expenditure, could hardly 
have been ideal for a high-spirited, beautiful, but entirely 
uneducated child for she was little more than a child in 
years or experience and the mistake was dearly paid for 
by both the sufferers. The great disparity in age, educa- 
tion, and tastes eventually, though not for some years, 
caused what might have been expected to be the sad but 
inevitable end of such a marriage. It would be difficult 
to attempt to explain the circumstances which led to this 
strange union. Frederic Shields was no doubt actuated 
by the highest motives. He had known his wife and had 
much influence over her since she was a tiny child, and 
had given her much instruction, though probably little of 
a kind that she could assimilate. His feelings for her had 
possibly changed very little from those of a strict though 
very affectionate teacher who sought nothing but the 
spiritual and moral improvement of his beautiful little 
model. Probably some outside interference from her 
parents or others made him suddenly realise that the child 
was growing into a woman, very precocious for her years 
in some ways, and very devoted to the great artist who 
took her from her monotonous home surroundings, read to 
her, dressed her up in pretty colours, and placed her 
literally on a pedestal to be admired. But as time went on, 
from the point of view of the wicked world, and of the girl 
herself, the old relationship could not continue. The time 
came when it must cease, or become a nearer one, and the 
latter course was chosen. The diary continues on the day 
after the wedding : 

" Aug. IQth. Blackpool. Good sermon. The effectual 
fervent prayer of a righteous man. 



166 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" Monday, 17 th. Saw Mac to train. Alone in Black- 
pool. Walked much. Fine weather. Saw bulldogs in 
show, splendid beasts. Evening with Mr. Roberts and his 
family. 

" Aug. 20th. No letter from Cissy since I left home. 
Could rest no longer. Back by 4 train. 

"Aug. 21st. Boy nearly drowned in pit opposite, spent 
the morning trying to save him. By God's blessing 
succeeded. To town, back at 5. 

" Aug. 227id. Worked at wave in ' Caught by the 
Tide.' " 

The diary is blank for the rest of the year. 



CHAPTER XI 

Ordsall Hall threatened Letter to Ruskin Sketching Queen Victoria's 
drawing-room Death of Oliver Madox Brown The Royal Jig-saw 
puzzle Shields' Exhibition and farewell dinner. 

ANOTHER distraction was now oppressing the artist again 
his secluded old house was being beset by builders bent 
on developing the neighbourhood. A letter addressed to 
Mr. Ruskin described his woes in vivid language : 

" About myself ere long I shall be driven out of 
my house, the happiest refuge I ever nested in. It is, 
like most old rooms, very lofty, is of wood and plaster, 
evidently of the Seventh Harry's time, and is most in- 
teresting in many ways. It belonged to the Radcliffe 
family, some branch, as I understand, from the scanty 
information I can scrape, of the Derwentwater family. 

Lord owns it now, or did till lately, for I am informed 

he has sold it and the lands about it to an Oil Cloth 
Company, who will start building their factory behind 
it shortly and probably resell the land they do not 
use, with the hall, to be demolished as an encumbrance 
that does not pay. Already the 'Egyptian plague of 
bricks ' has alighted on its eastern side, devouring every 
green blade. Where the sheep fed last year, five streets 
of cheap cottages, one brick thick in the walls (for the 
factory operatives belonging to two great cotton-mills 
near), are in course of formation great cartloads of 
stinking oyster shells having been laid for their founda- 
tions, and the whole vicinity on the eastern side, in a 
state of mire and debris of broken brick and slates, is 
so painful to my eyes that I scarce ever go out in day- 
light. Fifteen years ago a noble avenue of sycamores led 
to the hall and a large wood covered the surface of an 

167 



168 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

extensive elevation of red sandstone, not a tree stands 
now, and the rock itself is riddled into sand and carted 
away." 

So much of the letter is printed in Fora Clavigera, 
as "A letter from an old friend whose home, like my 
own, has been broken up by modern improvements," 
Ruskin having written to Shields asking permission to 
print it without name or locality, as it saved him de- 
scriptive work and authenticated facts. 

Shields in the rough draft of the letter (preserved 
for thirty-six years), which may or may not have been 
sent to Ruskin as it stands, goes on to say : 

" If the Parthenon itself stood here, and these specu- 
lators could clear five pounds by its demolition, it would 
go. And I, poor snail, with a shell that fits me so, that I 
might have nad it made to my convenience (so quiet from 
all the horrors which made London an unendurable 
torture-house of organs, pianos, parrots, &c.), when my 
shell is smashed, where shall I seek shelter for my 
tender body ? " 

Ruskin sent a rather doleful reply, and laments that 
he has never succeeded in repressing Shields' excitability 
or leading him into peaceful development of his powers. 
He suggests that an " almost cottage " life in the country 
would be healthiest for him. 

Months passed in unsettled discomfort, visits to Black- 
pool and London on M'Lachlan's business, lessons in 
Scripture and grammar to his young wife, and occasional 
work at water-colours. To his friends, who thought of 
him as an ascetic, devout, almost hermit-like recluse, 
the news of Frederic Shields' marriage must have come 
as a great surprise. Apparently it was kept a secret for 
some months, for in October Madox Brown wrote : 



CONGRATULATIONS 169 

" Ever since my answer to your last letter, when 
you talked of coming to London to look out for a house, 
I have been thinking of you and wondering what you 
were after and intending to write to you again. What are 
you up to ? I hope you are well. I am to lecture in Man- 
chester, November 23rd and 25th. Brockbank has made 
me promise to stop at his house. . . . You will be sorry 
to hear that Nolly has been seriously ill now for three 
weeks, and it may turn to rheumatic fever or we don't 
know what. My wife and I have our health at present 
but this illness of Nolly's puts us sadly out. I have 
been at work at ' Byron and Mary Chaworth ' and can't 
get it finished, and on a portrait but can't get the man 
to sit so that hangs fire. Altogether things are a great 
bother, but I shall be glad to hear that you are well. 
For some time I hesitated to write thinking you had 
moved, but Brockbank informed us you were still at 
Ordsall Hall. 

" P. 8. Of course I shall see you when I come to 
Manchester." 

Evidently the secret could not be kept any longer. A 
little later Madox Brown wrote again : 

"I should have written to congratulate you at once 
had I not been so engaged. But I do now most heartily, 
and believe that the agreeable society of your wife (and 
let us hope children) will do much to alleviate the 
nervous troubles and anxieties you have suffered from 
I shall have for your wedding gift that cartoon of 'The 
Way of Sorrow ' that you liked so, framed appropriately. 
Your hint as to subject for Brockbank shall be borne 
in mind. Thanks also for what you kindly say as to 
the pictures in the exhibition. Nolly is not yet con- 
valescent, I regret to say, and had a very sad night but 
we hope for the best." 

" The Way of Sorrow " strikes one as a cheerless choice 
for a wedding gift only equalled by "The Sacrifice of 



170 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Manoah " which was the subject of the drawing given by 
Shields to Mr. William M. Rossetti on his marriage. 

Meanwhile Shields was still struggling with M'Lach- 
lan's Royal Group a collection of sketches carefully 
preserved shows that he made a preliminary sketch of 
the whole composition, and journeyed to Windsor Castle, 
where he made drawings in colour of the drawing-room, 
its large patterned carpet and gold furniture, upholstered 
in green satin, all of which had to be arranged as a 
background to the twenty-two Royal personages who 
sat at different times to M'Lachlan or supplied their 
portraits, to be fitted together like an early Victorian 
jig-saw puzzle. M'Lachlan found the light of Blackpool 
more favourable to his operations than the dull atmosphere 
of Manchester, and they worked there for some time, also 
at M'Lachlan's house at Whalley Range. The young 
wife was at home, her loneliness occasionally consoled 
by visits from Miss Thomson, one of her husband's young 
pupils. 

At times Ordsall Hall was deserted and Blackpool 
became their headquarters. 

Madox Brown's visit was delayed by the illness and 
tragic death of his gifted young son Oliver. 

37 FITZHOY SQUARE, 
Oct. 30th, 1874. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I steal a few minutes from my night 
watch to tell you how Nolly is going on, and to speak 
to you about another matter. We have now a regular 
hospital nurse Nolly has been ill within two days of 
seven weeks, about the third week he seemed mending, 
then he had a relapse which is a common feature of these 
fevers I am told, then his illness assumed the form of 
blood poisoning recently it is more like enteric or gastric 
fever. He is no longer in pain and to-day a slight im- 
provement has shown itself, which we trust may be the 
harbinger of ultimate convalescence when he would be 



DEATH OF OLIVER MADOX BROWN 171 

out of danger. Of course I have lost three or four 
weeks' work, but that, and the expense, is nothing at all 
in the scale. No end of people keep calling and enquiring 
now that it is becoming known. But I can scarce see 
any of them. I pass the night in his room, sleeping but 
not undressing till six, when I wake the nurse and go 
to bed for two or three hours. The nurse is admirable 
in skill and tact. How get you on? And the lady? 
I trust as happy as you deserve and I hope that Nolly 
may be so improved as not to stop my coming to the 
lectures and to see you both next month. (Nolly keeps 
talking in his sleep). ... I have done a little to my 
" Byron's Dream," and a little to a large portrait but so 
little. . . . Mrs. Brown and myself are well. Hoping 
as much of yourself and wife, As ever, yours most 
sincerely, FORD MADOX BROWN. 

Shields, working away at his uncongenial task, whether 
at Blackpool or at Ordsall Hall, was doubtless agonising 
in sympathy over his friends' anxiety, and the following 
letter shows that he was afraid that other worries might 
be still further depressing the anxious watchers. Part of 
this letter appears in Mr. Hueffer's Life of Madox Brown, 
but is in error addressed to Mr. Rae. 

37 FITZEOY SQUARE, 
Nov. 8th, 1874. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I have delayed too long answering 
yours of the 4th, though it be but for a day or two but 
I determined to write to you myself and have had neither 
time nor heart to do so and now I scarce can find words to 
convey the dreadful intelligence in this black-bordered 
paper will tell you better than I can that our poor dear 
Nolly is dead on Thursday at about twenty minutes 
to seven, and is to be buried this next Thursday about 12. 
Nothing that I can say can add to the impression which 
I know these words will make on you. The loss from 
every point of view is heavy to me, to his mother, and 
even to all his relations, and the public perhaps more 
than any, though for the present it cannot be supposed 



172 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

to judge of it. But being no ordinary loss, we have decided 
to bear it, if we can, in no ordinary way, and not to 
complain. I would have much more to speak about 
to you but cannot write more now. As to your own 
accident and proceedings I can only say that the first 
grieves me, and the second (your voluntary loan) makes 
me say you are one of the kinaest souls alive but though 
sufficiently drained, no doubt, by these expenses and 
hindrances to work, I am not yet at the end of my re- 
sources, so do not for an instant attribute my sending the 
money back to false pride, but to my not wanting it just 
now. The lectures must be put off, as well as thoughts 
about the Holding matter. Yours ever sincerely, 

F. MADOX BROWN. 



To one of Shields' emotional temperament and fervid 
religious views, the calm, philosophic resignation of Madox 
Brown was probably incomprehensible. By an irony of 
fate Madox Brown and Rossetti, his two nearest friends 
during many years of his life, differed from him absolutely 
in their views upon religion. Probably very early in their 
acquaintance they agreed to differ on the subject, for 
although Shields could preach with great eloquence in 
pictures, by writing, and by word of mouth, his intense 
feeling made him almost incapable of arguing with any- 
thing like calmness or coherence upon any question of 
Christian faith. A cheerful and reverent Agnostic, whose 
whole life was one of unselfishness and devotion to lofty 
aims, who was tolerant and dignified in every relation of 
life, and who bore an overwhelming sorrow with more 
than the patience of Job, really gave painfully little oppor- 
tunity for exhortation and prayer. The postponed lectures 
took place, and Shields invited Madox Brown to stay at 
Ordsall Hall, though evidently with some misgivings as 
to the draughtiness of the old house. 



MADOX BROWN 173 

56 EUSTON SQUABE, W.C. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Your nice kind letter finds me here 
with William Rossetti, having just returned from staying 
with the Hueffers at Merton. I have been intending to 
write to you before coming next Monday, but have kept 
putting it off', because what can I say ? 

My wife has been rather alarmingly ill, and we had to 
sit up with her for at least a week, but she is coming 
round again, and I shall be able to leave her with her two 
daughters for the three days I must be in Manchester. . . . 
I shall arrive at 12.30 noon Monday, and if not putting 
you out shall be glad indeed to meet you at the station. 
Of course I would much prefer that it was to your house 
that I was bound (draughts or no draughts), but the pos- 
sibility of a solid commission from Brockbank must not 
be overlooked. But I must try to be with you as much 
as he will let me ; people who are your hosts are usually 
tyrannical and jealous. I have told him, however, that 
I cannot accept any public engagements of a festive 
character, and have declined the soiree of the Athenaeum 
as well. Brockbank had sent me your article yesterday ; 
it is very thoughtful and friendly of you to make a row 
about me in this way, and the article itself is proof that 
as a literary character you would have been as remarkable 
as in your pictorial one. What I shall tell the people in 
my lectures will (after this) perhaps tend a good deal to 
clear up misapprehension and induce people to look with 
the eyes of common sense. 

You will, I daresay, expect me to write more about 
myself and ourselves at this melancholy juncture (I am 
just now finishing an oil picture of " Byron and Mary 
Cha worth," which has been of course much delayed, but 
which I hope to get done with before leaving London) ; 
but, as I said before, what can I say ? We must begin 
soon to think of his literary remains, which I suppose 
William Rossetti and Hueffer will edit between them. 
It will be a sad task having to sort his books and look 
out his manuscripts, but sad is the complexion of the 
event. 

I made a drawing of him after death, which I think 
successful both for likeness and as a pleasing piece of 



174 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

expression. We also have a cast of his right hand, which 
is most beautiful, and a photograph was fortunately taken 
some months before his cleath. I must bring you one. 

We must make your wife's acquaintance soon. You 
must bring her to stay with us, either at Fitzroy Square 
or wherever we may be. With our best regards to her, 
Yours as ever, FORD MADOX BROWN. 

Shields now definitely made up his mind to leave 
Manchester for London, and many were the letters re- 
ceived suggesting various desirable localities or houses. 
Early in February 1875 he went to London, principally 
on M'Lachlan's business, but also to prospect for a likely 
house. The young wife evidently found herself very 
lonely, and apparently wrote suggesting that if her hus- 
band did not return soon she would like to go and stay 
with friends. He replied : 

37 FITZROY SQUARE, 
Feb. 2nd, 1875. 

MY DARLING WIFE, If you are so ill that you must 
go away, this cannot and must not be till I return neither 
to the M'Lachlans' nor the Rowleys'. The house must 
not be left to Mrs. Mahoney. If you are so ill you must 
go away, I will return at once ; but do nothing without 
letting me know, nor without my approval. I expect I 
shall be quite ill myself after my return, with all the 
wearying worry I have gone through alone. If you are 
lonely, so am I. All these journeys must be made alone, 
and all ending in disappointment, only to start and try 
again. The expenses have been very heavy. Write to 
me at once. I will return on Saturday, any way, and 
before if you want me. Mrs. Mahoney should nurse you 
well. Write your grammar lessons if you can, if you are 
well enough. Ever your true husband, 

FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. 

The journeys were in search of a suitable house. An 
undated letter written about the same time follows, hardly 
calculated to raise the young wife's spirits : 



FAREWELL MANCHESTER 175 

37 FITZEOY SQUARE. 

MY DEAR OWN WIFE, On Monday I had arranged to 
go to see Watson's beautiful place, but he said there was 
a shrieking parrot behind him driving him almost to 
madness, and a stable underneath the studio where the 
horses are always ringing their chains, and where they 
kill pigs. In short, it was no use going to see it, and so 
the great thing on which I depended is gone. I can't tell 
you how I felt it. There is no peace until we reach those 
mansions which Jesus has gone before to prepare for His 
people, and seeing what a place this world is, and how 
wretched I have been for so many years, I seek to settle 
my hopes on His precious promise as sure and certain. 
Watson said I should find more quiet in London. I don't 
know what to do, and can only pray God to guide me into 
some place of peace. Yesterday I found a place which 
would suit me, but it is so far from every one, so difficult 
to get at, that even Mac thinks it would be madness to 
take it. The expenses of travelling day after day are 
terrible, and all my work stopped besides. There's an 
organ just begun to grind, driving me stupid before nine 
in the morning. God bless you, my dear, and pray with 
me that I may be guided as God sees best for me and you. 
More than love to you from Your affectionate hubby, 

FREDERIC. 



Meanwhile, on learning that he had decided to leave 
Manchester, his friends and admirers were arranging an 
exhibition of Shields' work, with a farewell banquet and 
conversazione. The exhibition was open from February 
14th to March 3rd, and among the members of the com- 
mittee were such well-known names as William Agnew, 
Thomas Armstrong (afterwards Director of South Ken- 
sington Museum), W. Keeling, then President of the 
Manchester Academy, Alderman King, the Mayor of Man- 
chester, R. M. Pankhurst, LL.D. (afterwards counsel for 
M'Lachlan in his lawsuit anent the Royal Group), John 
Ruskin, George Richmond, R.A., L. Alma Tadema, D. G. 



176 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Charles Rowley, Clarence 
Whaite, and nearly a hundred others. 

Evidently the success of the exhibition and the kind- 
ness of his Manchester friends made Shields take a rather 
more cheerful view of things in his next letter, which drew 
the following kindly advice from Madox Brown : 

" I am truly rejoiced to hear from you this morning 
that your exhibition conversazione was a success, and your 
wife admired as she deserved. From what you say I shall 
certainly come to the banquet, though I felt great doubts 
as to the propriety of this course, and indeed if it might 
not be the occasion of more injury than good to you ; but 
as far as trouble or time goes, it is a compliment I owe 
you and a pleasure I shall enjoy. I do hope that after 
this you will give up gloomy thoughts and turn to enjoy 
life a little like a reasonable biped. Four-footed creatures 
never go about tormenting themselves when there is no 
reason, as we do. You owe it to your young wife to be 
uproariously jolly and hilarious on all occasions now. 
With our kindest regards and compliments to the lady, 
Yours as ever, FORD MADOX BROWN. 

" P.S. Some time ago Rossetti gave me two guineas to 
dispose of in charity the remains of some money that he 
had given in excess of what was wanted. I have re- 
peatedly forgotten about it, but send it to you now, because 
it will be of more use to your Manchester poor than when 
you come to London." 

Madox Brown came to Manchester and responded to 
the toast of English Art at the farewell dinner, which 
took place at the Queen's Hotel on March 6th, with the 
IV^ayor of Manchester in the chair. The toast of the 
evening was proposed by Mr. Councillor Fox Turner, and 
Shields made an eloquent reply, urging the worthy de- 
coration of their public buildings upon the Manchester 
men. 



THE ROYAL GROUP 177 

Soon after this Shields and his wife went off to Black- 
pool, making that their headquarters for the rest of the 
year, until the worry of the photographic white elephant 
should be lifted from his weary shoulders. Writing some 
time afterwards about this work he said : 



" I was foolish enough to yield to the reiterated solici- 
tations of my friend Lachlan M'Lachlan, the photographer, 
and design for him a group of the Royal Family, twenty- 
two in all, as a basis for a picture to be produced by photo- 
graphy. It was a concession both against my judgment 
and feeling to an old friend's desire. At intervals during 
these years I have often at great inconvenience been sum- 
moned to aid him in difficult passages of his undertaking, 
which is on a large scale; and whereas I thought to be 
settled in London at my own work, all my other engage- 
ments have had to give place to M'Lachlan's venture, and 
I have been held in slavery to a most loathsome task, 
endeavouring to bring into pictorial harmony for him a 
huge mass of heterogeneous photographic material, at a 
cost to myself of daily crucifixion. Every week it has 
seemed to be approaching completion, only to sink into 
littered and inextricable confusion again. The putting 
together of hundreds of fragments of photographs, the 
delay attendant on the chemical operations and measur- 
ings of proportion in the camera, ere all would cleave 
together into patchwork consistency by aid of pins and 
paste, has left me unable to do anything else so com- 
pletely that I count this year of my life lost to myself, a 
veritable sacrifice to friendship. Having sworn to my 
own hurt, I may not change when the consequences prove 
heavier by far than I anticipated." 



In June Madox Brown wrote warmly inviting them 
both to Fitzroy Square, but the visit was again postponed. 
A little later Shields, in Manchester with M'Lachlan, 
writes to his wife at Blackpool. There is quite an Alice 
in Wonderland suggestion in the description ! 

M 



178 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

MY DARLING WIFE, We have got the Duchess to-day- 
right, I believe. I am more tired than I can tell you, though 
I am glad to say we have done the Princess of Wales's 
dress to-day, with Mrs. Bartlett's help. To-morrow we do 
the Marchioness of Lome, and there is still a model to 
find for Princess Helena's body. On Friday, God willing, 
I may get back to my own dearest wife again. What a 
hideous place this Manchester seems to me now. Mac has 
been better than usual, not so mad quite. ... I send 
you a pattern for your upper skirt, and a sketch of how it 
will look which I made from the fashion book. I also 
send you a bit of silk braid or trimming which might suit 
your dress. Tell me if you think it will. Write to me at 
once, for I may not be able to get back on Friday, and I 
shall be disappointed if I don't hear from you. Address 
the letter care of L. M'Lachlan, 92 Bishop Street, Whalley 
Range. God bless you, my sweet one ; what a shabby, 
short letter you sent this morning. Your loving husband, 

FREDERIC. 



The summer passed, and still the Royal Group was 
uncompleted. Madox Brown wrote in September : 

"It is really time for me to write again and repeat, 
' What has become of you ! ' I am aware, however, that 
the last letter was from you to me, so that you might 
retort, ' What has become of ' me. I fancy, however, that 
you are tolerably certified as to the fact 01 my being here, 
or not very far away. I suppose you are still on the great 
work, let us call it the tunneling of Mont-Lachlan to avoid 
terms of offence. Swinburne writes me that he and Pro- 
fessor Jowett have seen more than one laudation of me in 
the Manchester papers recently to what pitch of electric 
commotion have you frictioned them that these sparks 
are elicited ? 

" Here there is nothing new with the exception that 
Rossetti has received a commission for two thousand 
guineas from a photographer ! So that your friend may 
turn out a blessing in the end instead of a cause for curses. 
But where are you ? Still the same ' Prospect Cottage ' 



AT BLACKPOOL 179 

which same prospecting has not revealed the nugget suc- 
cess photographically ? We have still got the place ready 
for you ; but do not hurry or consider that one moment 
will be more appropriate than another for your visit, for 
you will put no one out." 

The pertinacity of M'Lachlan and his dogged perse- 
verance, in spite of all the complications attendant upon 
getting sittings from Royal personages and fitting them 
all into the composition as designed by Shields, were really 
becoming very wearying. The following letter vividly 
describes his condition : 

PKOSPECT COTTAGE, BLACKPOOL, 
November 1st, 1875. 

DEAR Miss THOMSON, Dreary days here are less dreary 
than in town; indeed, I am quite enamoured of the 
moaning wind at nights, its soothing melancholy of tone, 
and shall ill brook the change to the streets, where it is 
prisoned in brick channels. We have longed for and in 
vain expected your promised advent. But I rejoice that 
you are working indeed. . . . What an amount of envy 
you have created in my bosom for your beautiful days at 
the Aquarium. Make much of this young joy in all beauty. 
Such days of leisure grow rarer, and the power to enjoy 
them with unrestricted mind weaker as age creeps on us. 

All our house salute you. My wife specially, who 
would write to you in gratitude for the pleasure which 
your letter afforded her ; but that its brilliant excellency 
of descriptive power and perfect caligraphy have abashed 
her soul into silence and her pen into rust. But she 
desires me to say that if you will get her the aforesaid 
number of yards of the " bobby fringe " she will be your 
obliged and faithful servant, if not correspondent, all the 
rest of her life. Life, said I ? What is mine now ! A 
slavery too cruel to bear, the iron (or collodion) really 
entering my soul. By this time this vile picture has got 
unendurable, and its end is hidden in fog yet. My heart 
is weary. . . . Ever yours faithfully, 

FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. 



180 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Arthur Hughes, who from experience could sympathise 
perhaps even better than any of his artist friends, writes 
on November 9th : 

" I am very glad indeed to hear of you and our 
friend M'Lachlan ; but indeed sorry that the great work 
keeps such a hold upon you, keeping you from other and 
pleasanter work I presume. Of course, it will have to be 
done whether pleasant or bitter, when two such men have 
taken it in hand; but I look to see you both white- 
haired old men when next we meet, and M'Lachlan will 
certainly when he dies (which I trust will be a long time 
hence, and may his shadow never grow less !) have to be 
wrapped up and buried in all the big black and white 
pictures he ever had a hand in ! I hope Mrs. Shields is 
with you to cheer you up, though it's getting late for the 
sea if Blackpool is by the sea. Not found a house yet ? " 

An amusing letter from Madox Brown recounts a com- 
mission from a Mr. Pooley to paint " Elijah seeing Elisha 
ploughing at the head of twelve yoke of oxen twenty- 
four in all, besides the men and landscape." More letters 
from various friends suggest possible houses and localities ; 
but Shields and his wife remained at Blackpool. In 
November Madox Brown wrote : 

" I am very sorry to know by your letter that both 
you and your wife have been ill again; I daresay the 
worry of this black art affects you, but I trust you may 
soon be out of your trouble now. . . . As to Pooley, I 
wrote him a longish letter some weeks ago, to which he 
never replied, and I began to think him offended at my 
not jumping with delinous joy over the twelve yoke of 
oxen. However, I have again written him to-day. ... It 
has struck me that I might perfectly place the twenty- 
four oxen all in perspective behind the two prophets and 
their mantle, which, after all, might screen a wnole army 
of cattle. I shall be very glad to make Mr. Pooley's 
acquaintance." 



THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PUZZLE 181 

Whether through the friendly services of Shields, who 
knew Mr. Pooley, or not, Madox Brown was relieved of 
the troublesome necessity of painting twenty-four oxen all 
in a row, or even so many of them in perspective as could 
not be concealed by the mantle of the prophets ; he wrote 
in December : 



" Some days since I received a very kind letter from 
Mr. Pooley in which he hands over (in a manner) the 
choice of a subject to me. . . . How get you on with your 
Mac ? Is there any chance whatever of your getting done 
with him and coming here according to promise, and his 
making his thirty thousand pounds and then starting the 
English Photographic Picture Company with three shop 
windows full of them in the City, the West End, and over 
by Westminster in Palace Yard ? It must be done ; the 
foreigner becomes more rampant daily in the matter of 
photographed pictures. All this time I am forgetting 
your having been poorly again. I am a perfect brute." 

In 1876 the diary begins again, kept very irregularly 
at Blackpool. 

The following entries give some idea of the fearful task 
the photographic puzzle must have been : 

" Jan. 17th. Royal Group. Finished pinning up the 
second board, began pasting Princess Louise and back- 
ground with vase. Reading Henry V. 

" Feb. 3rd. Royal Group, Fighting with Lome and 
Hesse. Got Prince of Wales pinned up. 

" Feb. 8th, All day contriving Crown Prince Helena 
and Princess Royal with pins. Got down Lome entire, 
cushion pasted up eleven pieces in it. 

" Feb. 15th. Got Princess of Wales down, and three 
children in corner after a struggle. Measuring bust for 
new negatives. 

" March 6th. To Mac to square out Royal Group for 



182 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

enlargement. Two hours. Tried to draw children in red 
chalk in afternoon, could do little, weak and nerveless. 

" Friday 17th. To London on the ' New Company's ' 
business, with Milner and Rowley, to arrange terms of 
partnership, &c. Stayed at Mrs. Scott's." 

During a visit to Mrs. Scott, Shields was invited to West- 
minster by Charles Kingsley, and a letter to Mrs. Kingsley 
from Mrs. Scott gives a glimpse of a cheerful break in this 
rather dreary period. 

Madox Brown wrote on March 6th : 

" I hear from Rowley that he and you are to be in 
London on or about the 17th, and so I suppose that you 
will at length be free to come up on your search for a house 
as before proposed, and that you will bring your wife with 
you here, as we have so long been expecting. We shall 
be ready for you both, and very happy to see you again 
and know you are free of the lunatic business. . . . 
Smetham, who called here some weeks ago, was telling me 
of a house for you, but I did not write about it, as I well 
knew it would only add to your feelings of hopelessness 
and helpless rage. 

" I near Rowley and you have had a recent confab 
about the new company and that you were going to write 
to Ruskin. I felt bound to express my views to our 
' pardner ' Rowley in clear and forcible terms as to that 
determination, and I have not yet heard as to results but 
I believe I convincingly showed him that if the course 
decided on was looked upon as imperative I would not 
stand in the way of the prosperity of the business but 
one thing that must be a sine qua non is secrecy. Our 
names will not appear nor be hinted at even. Of all 
this we must talk at much length on meeting, in expecta- 
tion of which pleasure I remain as ever." 

M'Lachlan's work really seems to have come to an end 
at this juncture, leaving Shields exhausted in body and 
mind. An undated letter from Rossetti refers to one of 



ROSSETTI ON RUSKIN 183 

these visits to town about the proposed photographic 
company. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I really feel answerable for your 
cold (with much sorrow therefore) as I induced you to 
overstay the train. But you should always put down 
the glass of a hansom on a cold night then it is safe 
enough. I should be very glad to see you on Saturday. . . . 
As for that blessed fellow Ruskin, I'll really beg you, as a 
friend, to refrain from naming him. I daresay old Brown 
has desired the same kind forbearance from you. The 
influence he retains over you is a mystery to me. If / 
am supposed included in any " realistic " school, what can 
the fellow mean ? If I have any share in originating any- 
thing, it is whatever there may be of ideal in English Art 
just now. Yours affectionately, D. G. ROSSETTI. 

In April Madox Brown wrote : 

" I am quite concerned to hear of your being ill again, 
and getting very anxious that you should come here at last. 
Everything awaits you, and Rowley saw a house that 
would exactly suit you at Bushey, where Herkomer lives. 
As to the Town Hall affair it must now take its chance, 
we can do no more that I can see, and we shall be singularly 
lucky if we get it, I think. I have nearly done Pooley's 
drawing, and Rowley wants one of the ' Jesus and Peter ' 
of the same size. ... I have just heard that a confounded 
Parson managed to get a certain article put hi the Satwday 
Eeview (I call it the Latter Day Spew) accusing the Blake 
exhibition of being all indecency and rubbish being a 
member of the Burlington Club, he was to move that the 
Exhibition be closed on such grounds. Did you ever hear 
the like ? 

" Sich is Philistia, and it seems we can't alter it." 

In another interesting letter from Madox Brown about 
this picture he says : 

" Originally in the large oil picture of ' Jesus washing 
Peter's Feet ' the figure of Jesus was girt about the waist 



184 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

with a towel for all clothing, in illustration of John xiii. 
4-5 : ' He riseth from supper, and laid aside his gar- 
ments : and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that 
He poureth WATER into a bason, and began to wash the 
disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith 
he was girded.' 

" Or course with all the flesh painting the picture was 
far fuller of artistic material, but for which I should never 
have chosen a subject without a woman in it. Of course 
the intention is that Jesus took on Himself the appear- 
ance of a slave as a lesson of the deepest humility and 
with the gold nimbus round His head, the impression was 
very striking. People, however, could not see the poetry 
of my conception, and were shocked at it, and would not 
buy the work and I, getting sick of it, painted clothes on 
the figures. I should now like to revert to the original 
drawing but not certainly should Rowley object." 



CHAPTER XII 

At Madox Brown's Bride at boarding-school To Italy with Charles 
Rowley Letters from Italy. 

AFTER weeks of ill-health and indecision, during which 
the diary is blank, Shields made up his mind to go off for 
a tour in Italy with his friend Charles Rowley, and to leave 
his young wife in charge of Miss Bell, the erstwhile prin- 
cipal of Wilmington Hall. Some time before, as already 
mentioned, financial and other difficulties had arisen, and 
Miss Bell, assisted by her partner Miss Bradford, was 
conducting her school upon a less imposing basis at a 
house near Brighton, also called Winnington. To the 
care of Miss Bell and Miss Bradford, and to the very alien 
atmosphere of a select finishing-school for young ladies, 
the high-spirited young wife was committed. Miss Brad- 
ford was tall and thin, with an aquiline nose and beautiful 
brown hair coiled in severe Grecian plaits, her health was 
delicate, and she was a living embodiment of the essence 
of refinement and grace. Miss Bell was short, stout, grey- 
haired, wearing spectacles, an eminently correct and zealous 
instructress, a widely-read woman and a splendid teacher 
to the end of her long life, but favouring a system of 
espionage which one hopes would not be tolerated by 
English girls nowadays. A short stay at the Madox 
Browns' house was apparently made before leaving 

England. 

37 FITZEOY SQUARE, May 3rd, 1876. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Just a line to say that you will find 
your rooms ready for you and your wife, and I trust 
comfortable. . . . 



185 



186 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

I have heard nothing from Waterhouse again as yet, 
but I don't think we need trouble about the matter much 
should we not get it, for it will have its disadvantages 
as well as its advantages. For instance the moment 
we get this commission we shall, you will see, be getting 
all sorts of better things thrust upon us and no time to do 
them. On the other hand, should we not get this, we may 
also get nothing else so we must " open our mouths and 
shut our eyes and see, &c. &c." 

The diary records : 

" May 16th. Left London for Brighton saw Cissy to 
school. Parted with darling at 8. To Newhaven. Boat 
cold, no sleep, very sick, morn at last. 

" May 17th. Dieppe. Church of S. Jacque fine 
exterior, flamboyant, funeral service inside, solemn dirge 
of priests run to train. . . ." 

Frederic Shields wrote regularly to cheer the drooping 
spirits of his young wife, and of the letters written during 
his Italian tour, all carefully preserved by his directions 
in a leather case, the following are characteristic 
specimens : 

PARIS, May 19th, 1876. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, First my thanks are due to God 
on reaching Paris safely, my next duty and pleasure is to 
write to you. I am very happy so far, for everything is so 
new and wonderful that already I feel as if poor dear old 
M'Lachlan and all his vexations were out of my mind. 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and when I am 
away from you I love you more and more, for I can think 
of your best things without being vexed at those rude 
little ways and sayings which so often cut me deeply when 
we are together. I feel as if I had been parted from you 
a year already, and I shall be as impatient as you can be 
to see your face, my sweet one, in peace. 

Paris is a city of wonders. Deluged with blood only 
four years ago, it bears scarcely a mark of the awful 
struggle now, so hard have they worked to restore it. I 
hope you are as happy as you can be in my absence. 



FLORENCE 187 

How strange it was that I should open, the first morning 
I was here, at the xviii. chap, of Revelation and cast my 
eye upon the 15th verse For if any city in the world 
lives as Babylon, without God, it is surely this. When 
Rowley comes to-day, we shall leave for Italy at once, and 
I will write to you as soon as ever I can. 

The Lord preserve us both from the worst evil, a sinful, 
disobedient will ; all will then be well here and hereafter, 
come what else will. Ten thousand kisses, my own love. 
Ever your true husband, FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. 

My very kindest regards to Miss Bell and Miss Brad- 
ford, and the lady with whom you have a bedroom I 
forget her name. 

One can imagine with what very mingled feelings the 
young wife laboriously deciphered this next letter. 

FLORENCE, May 2Sth, 1876. 

MY DARLING WIFE, It was a pleasure to find a letter 
waiting for me here. I was glad and thankful to hear 
that you are well and as happy as you can be in my 
absence. I am also pleased to hear of your daily Bible 
lessons and that you enjoy them, only don't let them 
satisfy you so that you neglect reading it in private as 
God's message to your own spirit. Think what privileges 
you enjoy over the people here. At a street corner to- 
day I saw a shrine to the virgin her painted figure in it 
with roses offered to her by the passers-by, with the 
inscription upon it in Latin, " Refuge of Sinners, Mother 
of Consolation, pray for us." It makes me very sad amid 
all the glory of this land of Art and the wealth of this 
city in that kind is indescribable though in the great 
Gallery of the Uffizi Palace I saw more pictorial rubbish 
than I ever saw in one place together except at this year's 
Salon in Paris. The noble pictures are few out of the 
great number. I have made notes of many things, and I 
will tell you more when it pleases God to bring me back 
to you and I will see if I can't bring some little thing 
you will like from Italy or Paris. Write again at once as 
before, and may He who is the only refuge of Sinners 



188 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the God of all Consolation cleanse and deliver you from 
all sin and comfort you with His Holy Spirit. Pray for 
me that I may be preserved to see your face again and 
see it brightened with intelligence and gentleness. I am 
in hope tnat this thorough change will really do me good. 
It would do me much more good were it not for these 
stupid and insufferable women who can find no other 
means of enjoyment in an evening (when one wants quiet 
after the day's work) except squalling enough to lift the 
roof off your head, and strumming at the vilest of Bar- 
barian instruments the piano. Nowhere can I get away 
from them, they are at it now, till I sweat with suffering 
as I write this. 

Tell Miss Bell and Miss Bradford that I hope to have 
much to interest both them and their pupils when I 
return. 

Behave as my wife, so that in all things I may hear 
such an account as shall make me proud of you, in atten- 
tion, in seriousness, in courtesy and obliging behaviour. 
You must not think Miss Bell too severe, a mistress must 
often look hard, and hold things with a tight rein, when 
she does not feel anything but love to those under her 
care. You must remember, my dearest, that at school you 
must expect to be treated as a scholar, and I pray you, my 
love, as you love me, show a pattern of submission and 
obedience to the rest. Hush and put down every fretful 
thought, think for what purpose you are at school, consider 
how great will be your loss if you neglect this opportunity, 
and how much it will grieve your husband if ^ou show 
any self-will or disobedience ; as my wife, it will reflect 
shame on me if you do. Be humble, my dear, do just 
what you are told. " Except a man humble himself as a 
little child, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." 
Consider Him for He is lowly and meek, and you will find 
rest in obeying for His sake, whose bride you shall be if 
you follow Him. And for my sake too, my love, I know 
you will give up your own will. There is no peace for any 
of us until we do. 

Not till we crucify ourselves can we have any real life. 

I wish you could learn to spell little simple words 
better than you do, for you spell worse than you write. 



FLORENCE 189 

I could make a dreadful list of your wrongly spelt words 
if I chose, from your letters, only I have not the heart to 
pull them to pieces, seeing how full of love they are, my 
darling. So try better, dear, and let me know what you 
are learning every day. Above all, obey and submit your- 
self to the School rules as if you were my child whom I 
had committed to Miss Bell's care. There is nothing in 
life without discomfort. The noise and discomfort I have 
to bear on this journey is very hard, but to get what I 
wish to learn from the works of the great painters in Italy 
I must endure all this patiently, and to get any education 
you must endure the troubles and learn the subjection of 
a school-girl to those in authority over her. We have 
changed into a boarding-house kept by a widow lady who 
was once a member of Mr. M'Laren's chapel. For his 
sake she is kind to me. The food is better than I have 
had anywhere else, and Rowley and I are both better for 
it, though we only changed our lodgings last night. May 
God keep us both to meet again. Ever your husband true 
and faithful, FREDEEIC. 

While Frederic Shields wandered about Florence, dis- 
tracted by the noise of the town and complaining much 
of American trippers, his friend Rowley went on to Venice 
alone, leaving Shields to follow later. 

The diary records : 

" 29th. Anniversary of the battle of Curtatone, 1848. 
Saw the veteran volunteers of the Florentine contingent 
going to St. Croce, and after on returning to St. Maria 
Novella, got excited and cheered, ' Viva V Italia' 

" To Spanish Chapel, noisy with carpenters, could not 
think, came away." 

And presumably spent the evening writing to his wife 
at Brighton as follows : 

VIA MAGGIO 28, FLOEENCE, 
29th May 1876. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, This is the anniversary of the 
battle of Curtatone in 1848, and a grand mass for those 
who fell there was held in Santa Croce and after the 



190 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

service was over, as we were in the cloisters of Santa Maria 
Novella, the veterans who had volunteered from Florence 
into the Piedmontese army under Charles Albert, marched 
in with a military band before them each veteran with 
his medals. It was a touching and stirring sight to see 
these men who had formed the very van of Italian liberty 
though the blood then shed haa to wait eleven years 
more before it bore the fruit desired. I wish you would 
read this to Miss Bradford, for she will be interested. I 
spend every hour carefully, knowing that I shall most 
likely never have another opportunity of learning what 
I am learning here about painting and now that Kowley 
has gone, I can give better attention to the work I have 
to do. And so, dearest, you feel about your one chance of 
learning, I am sure, and you are doing with all your mind 
and heart. As Simone Memmi paints Grammar in the 
Spanish Chapel here, pointing three pupils through a very 
narrow gate for Grammar is the very beginning of all 
learning to know the meaning and the method of words 
so make it a particular care to learn all about it. ... 
Tell Miss Bell and Miss Bradford that I often think of them, 
and make a note for their school uses which they shall have 
on my return. Tell Miss Bradford that Dante's house or 
birthplace has been so shamefully restored that it is not 
worth drawing with any care and that I have got, for the 
school's use, a photograph of the great fresco in the Spanish 
Chapel, which forms the principal subject of Mr. Ruskin's 
Mornings in Florence. I am leaving Florence sooner than 
I would, because I can get no peace day or night, in any 
spot of the raving place, and so I must needs leave it witn 
much unseen and unstudied which I wished to do. I 
would not spend another Sunday here for much, especially 
as next Sunday there is a Regatta here on the river, and 
the shrieking and roaring will be at its culminative height. 
I will write to you when I get to Siena, God willing. There 
is a canary shrieking now enough to cut your head in two. 
Ever your own hubby, FREDERIC. 

It is to be feared that the young girl who read these 
closely written pages with some difficulty, wondered a little 
at their contents. 



SIENA 191 

A canary bird and a regatta would have appealed to 
her and to most girls of her age more than Simone 
Memmi pointing his three pupils through the very narrow 
gate of grammar and it must have been hard indeed for 
her to adapt her little replies with any sincerity, to these 
lengthy epistles (which hardly vary at all in style), even 
when aided by her enthusiastic teachers. 

SIENA, June th, 1876. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, I reached Siena safely last night, 
thank God, at 11 o'clock, having left Florence at 7, which 
is just 4 hours for about 50 miles. Travelling is very slow 
and tedious on these railways, but much safer than in 
England. It was moonlight, and the country was very 
fine. Almost every town set on a hill and the hills clothed 
at their tops with stone pines and cypress, at their bases 
with vines. This is Sunday, and I do not go to see build- 
ings or pictures, but I can't stir out without seeing how 
picturesque a place Siena is and I should have missed 
the greatest treat I have had yet, if I had failed to include 
it in my list. I went to the English Church, a little room 
in an hotel, this morning, but I was obliged to leave the 
service on account of the piano which was used in place 
of an organ. It was too painful to bear, and as there is no 
other English place of worship I found a Roman Catholic 
one, where all was empty, and there, in quiet, I knelt to 
God who knoweth all hearts. When I got out a military 
band was playing in the Loggia, and all Siena as gay as 
flags and colours out of every window, with coloured lamps 
ready to light up at night, could make it. For this is the 
15th anniversary of the proclamation of Victor Emmanuel 
as King of Italy, and this morning as early as 7 o'clock I 
was wakened by the blast of bugles, and out of my window 
which overlooks the public gardens I saw fifteen hundred 
soldiers marched and manosuvred about, the officers all 
gay in blue and silver uniform which looked too pure ever 
to be stained with blood. And this is Whit Sunday, the 
day of the coming of the Spirit of Peace upon the Church. 
How long yet will it be before the nations yield to that 
blessed influence and learn to beat their sharp swords into 



192 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

priming-hooks, and to make war no more ? How long, 
O Lord, how long ! 

Your letter has caused me much anxiety, and much 
gladness. Anxiety that you are so unhappy, gladness be- 
cause of your sorrow for sin, a mourning which will turn 
to joy, Jesus says, and so thousands of sinners have found 
it come to pass. If I do not care for your happiness, who 
should ? and I well know that all that people enjoy in this 
world, whether innocent or sinful enjoyment, does not, and 
cannot, satisfy the soul. With all the pleasures of the 
world at our command there is always a miserable feeling 
of unrest and dissatisfaction which nothing can take away 
but the surety of being at peace with God. . . . And to 
whom next to God should you look and tell your heart's 
desire but to your husband ? . . . My dearest wife, the 
sorest sin we can commit, is unbelief in God's words. The 
Scriptures tell us we make God a liar by such feelings. 
Take the words of Paul in the 4th of Hebrews, 14th, 15th, 
and 16th verses. . . . 

It is to be hoped that this letter, which continues in 
this strain for eight more closely written pages, afforded 
some comfort to the young wife, who was evidently finding 
life at school very depressing to both health and spirits. 

" June 1th. Returned to Florence. 

" June 12th. Started for Bologna. 

" 14th. Went to Hospital St. Anne. To Ariosto's 
house. At Duomo painting lion. 

" 16<A. Venice. To Academia. Walked about quay ; 
could not find my way back ; obliged to call a gondolier." 

VENICE, June 18th, 1875. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, I was disappointed to find only 
one little letter from you when I expected three or 
four. If I were to write so seldom to you I know well 
enough what you would think. I am very sorry that Miss 
Bell nas been cross to you. I did not think she would so 
far forget herself, for she knows well how few have been 
your opportunities of knowing what is right to do. Well, 



VENICE 193 

darling, I at least am pleased that you took it without 
resentment, though I am very vexed tnat you should have 
been put to grief, and I do trust that Miss Bell will be 
more careful in speaking to you for the future, as you say 
indeed she has been since. As to mending your niults, it 
is not easy for any of us to do, God knows ; but fear not, 
you will mend, and I shall praise you proudly for mend- 
ing, with God's help. You are never out of my mind 
about your comfort, and most about your soul's comfort. 
But remember, dearest, that God Himself is the Author 
of all comfort, and if you seek His forgiveness earnestly 
through Jesus, who has made peace for us all by the blood 
of His Cross, you will yet say, " Lord, I will praise Thee 
though Thou wast angry with me." 

Do you write your dictation better as regards spelling 
than when you write to me ? I am sure you are trying, 
but your mind has been so neglected that for a long while 
you will have to be busy uprooting the weeds of ignorance ; 
and it is hard work for any of us, Cissy darling, and you 
will find it so, but you must not be cast down. 

Sunday night. I've just come in from a walk on the 
Piazza of S. Mark. All Venice seemed to be there, young 
and old, rich and poor, marching round the square in a 
double stream in opposite directions, a band of music in 
the centre. Yet no one jostled another ; and there was 
not a rude word, or look, or movement anywhere to be 
seen among the young people. I thought of Stratford 
Road and what kind of behaviour is going on there at the 
same time, and I blush for my country. Fancy what an 
Italian must think when they see our English streets of 
promenade on a Sunday night. 

Venice gives me more pleasure than any place I have 
ever seen : the great Church of S. Mark, the palaces, the 
pictures, the canals, and the people themselves all so 
wonderful that I feel dazed and confused with the marvels 
about me. Oh, my dearest one, it will be such a joy to 
see my sister wife again and to hear how obedient and 
industrious you have been, to hear all you have learnt 
and to tell you all I have learnt, for I am cram full. 
Ever your loving husband, FREDERIC. 



N 



194 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

From Venice Shields went to Padua. The diary con- 
tinues : 

June 26th. St. Anastasia first. Benetiers at pillars, 
by Veronese's father ; quaint, lovely, simple Gothic, with 
round pillars. The roof bothered with arabesques. Fres- 
coes all poor. Some good Gothic tombs. To cathedral ; 
most beautiful Titian there; fine Carrotti in Baptistery, 
which is twelfth century. 

PADUA, Sunday, June 2WA. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, I arrived here yesterday and 
found my way at once to the Chapel of Giotto, which has 
been one of my daydreams to stand within ever since my 
boyhood. It is a wonderful place, and I spent all the day 
till four in the afternoon, when I went to the Eremite 
Church beside it to see the Andrea Mantegna frescoes. 
We have had very melting weather for several days ; it 
makes me feel very tired, and Venice is so full of glory 
that whilst I was there I worked too hard, and I am very 
glad of the quiet day of the Lord here, though it is very 
nard to make it holy here, where everyone seems entirely 
to disregard it. I am sure we in England have no idea of 
the blessings that flow to us through the observance of 
the Lord's Day. We ought to hold it fast as one of God's 
best gifts to us as a nation. There is no English service 
here, and so I am obliged to worship alone amidst so much 
distracting noise of busy workers about that I can hardly 
write to you even. To-morrow I start, God willing, for 
Verona, where I hope to find a letter waiting for me or I 
shall not get it, for I shall only stay there a day before 
going on to Milan, which will bring me a long stretch 
nearer home : for though we have none now till God directs 
us to a settled place, yet where you are is home to me so 
long as you love me, especially now, since I know of your 
mourning for sin for where this is there is also fear and 
hatred of sin, and these things must bring increasing 
confidence between us. Look at the love of David and 
Jonathan ; because it was founded in love to God, nothing 
could move it or change it. 

I am grieved to hear that you have been so poorly. I 



SWITZERLAND 195 

am writing to Miss Bell now about you, though I am 
afraid she may not understand me rightly. It is very 
hard to write about your going out more, although you 
must get into the garden for your health's sake. I thought 
that all the girls got out into the garden two or three times 
a day, and you with them ; and if this is not so, then I 
hope what I have written to Miss Bell will remedy it. 
We want to see you get on, but not to make you ill, my 
sweet one. I have made no complaints, but have hinted 
to Miss Bell that you require more exercise, and I have 
no doubt she will see to it. It must be our wisdom not to 
count the days which lie between us and our meeting ; to 
waste them in idle longing, but so to number them that 
each minute may be employed in duty, looking to our 
Great Master, Whose eye is upon us taking account of our 
deeds. 

" Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go, 

My daily labour to pursue ; 
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know 
In all I think or say or do." 

And if in such spirit you go on with your lessons, no doubt 
the grace of God will sanctify the efforts you make to 
advance. 

God bless you, darling, once again. Don't you long to 
see my treasure-box, my bunch of blue ribbons to tie up 
your bonny gold hair, my Chrysomena? All my love 
with this. Your true husband, FREDERIC. 

From Padua Shields went to Verona; then to Como 
and Cadenabbia, Lugano, Hospenthal. 

HOSPENTHAL, SWITZERLAND, 
July 5th, 1876. 

MY DEAREST LOVE, I am very tired to-day, as you 
may fancy when I tell you that I left Lake Como on 
Monday morning at ten o'clock by bus for Porlezza, which 
is on Lake Lugano ; then I had to take a small boat to 
Lugano, at the other end of the lake such a beautiful 
sail ; then the diligence to Bellinzona, which we did not 
reach till 10 at night. Then next day I started from 



196 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Bellinzona for Biasca at 11 o'clock A.M. by the railway, 
and then took the government diligence to this place, 
Hospenthal, over the Alps, and did not get here till 10 
last night, cold and tired, for we are in the region of per- 
petual snow here. All these two days I had no meals 
after breakfast, only such snacks of food as I could swallow 
in a hurry while the coach stops to change horses. The 
Alps how shall I try to make you fancy what they are 
like ? you might put Ingleboro on the top of them and it 
would only look like a Scotch cap on their heads. You 
should have seen the flocks of goats this morning going 
to pasture, and the pretty little Swiss cows, their backs no 
higner than my elbow, each with a bell round her neck ; 
and then four little pigs behind, one dark reddish brown, 
one a lighter brown, one the colour of a Scotch grey 
terrier, and one such a golden colour that his bristles 
would put even the light of your hair out, with little black 
spots on him behind, and pink ears and legs. I laughed 
at him, he was so odd, so lean, and so pretty coloured. 
And the flowers such fields full in the valley, though 
the great snow-peaks frown down on them ; and my brave 
lovely dandelions growing all along the roadsides. I sup- 
pose I shall get a letter from you at Lucerne, which won't 
be for some days yet, and when you get this you must 
write to Paris. It is so good to hear that Miss Colebrook 
is kind to you, and that you are really making an effort 
with your lessons. How is it that everything dies ? It 
was so at Winnington before. Who neglects them or 
teases the pets ? Someone is at fault. I suppose where 
there are so many no one attends to the duty of feeding 
them and cleaning them regularly. I hope you get out 
daily into the garden for exercise and play. One thing I 
long most of all for, to find your mind and heart still set 
upon Christ, longing for the fulness of His salvation from 
sin. There's a German band positively just struck up I 
must run away ; who would have thought it here ? Think 
how those fellows have climbed to make such a noise 
nearly 5000 feet above the level of the sea. I am very 
happy after your letter to think that you can learn from 
the example of any one, to avoid and to shrink from 
habits and manners which are painful to your husband 



BRIGHTON 197 

you see them now a little as I see them. Good night, my 
love, ever your own husband, FEEDERIC. 

" July 10th. Left Lucerne for Basle, an interesting 
country, mostly soft, with a few bold cliffs and sweet quiet 
villages. Basle Cathedral ; sketched door. Met Fildes at 
dinner at the hotel." 

From here in easy stages he returned to England, and 
on July 17th he arrived at Brighton ; but for that day 
and for many months the diary is blank. 



CHAPTER XIII 

House-hunting The proposed decorations for Manchester Town Hall 
English or foreign artists ? Shields' letter to the Council The Photo- 
graphic Company Bossetti reproductions Lodge Place, St. John's 
Wood Commission for windows for Coodham Chapel. 

SOON after his return from Italy, Shields went to London 
to begin searching for a house, staying with the Madox 
Browns, leaving his wife still at school at Brighton, where 
he spent week ends at intervals. 

37 FITZBOY SQUABK, 
July 22nd, 1876. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Why are you so silent ? Solacing 
yourself with your wife at Brighton when your cry should 
be, " To your tents, Israel ! " I have not been able to 
write to you till this minute, for you left me no address. 
I am to go down to meet the Committee of Decoration at 
Manchester this week, and sadly would require to speak 
with you before going. Things may get into a terrible 
mess, I see, owing to Waterhouse and general stupidity, 
but with Rowley and much energy may still be brought 
right. ... I don't yet know what day the meeting is to 
take place. You promised to finish your short truncated 
visit here, you and your wife, on your return from Italy. 
Are we to expect you now ? I suppose you must look out 
for a house. I have just written off a scheme of decora- 
tion for the five rooms (substantially what we decided on 
before you left) to Rowley, to be shown to Councillor 
Thomson, stating what portion you devised of it : 1. Com- 
mittee Room Religious ; 2. Politics ; 3. Entrance Hall 
Manufacture and Commerce ; 4. Legendary ; 5. The Ban- 
queting Hall, to be devoted to great men of different 
municipalities (your idea, and, as I told them, most im- 
portant). Watson, Gregory, and Marks have, you know, 

196 



MANCHESTER TOWN HALL 199 

declined. I, you, and Morgan are now, it seems, to be 
spoken with, and (Oh that it should be so !) Gu/ens & 
Swertz of Belgium. With our united kind regards to you 
both, yours as ever, FORD MADOX BROWN. 



The following is from a rough copy of a letter which 
was apparently written to some member of the Man- 
chester Town Council. The address is that of a studio 
in which Shields worked at this time. The date is some 
months later than the last letter of Madox Brown's, but 
it may fitly be admitted here as showing the spirited part 
played by Shields in these long-protracted negotiations, 
and as reminding Manchester of her indebtedness to his 
disinterested efforts. 

20 HEREFORD SQUARE, BROMPTON, 
Wth October 1876. 

DEAR SIR, There are times and situations when a 
man feels he must act and speak from his own individual 
convictions, without consulting even those with whom he 
is ultimately connected in some important matter which 
hangs on the balance. 

So I feel now, and I wish it to be clearly understood 
that this communication is entirely independent of, un- 
prompted by, and unknown to Mr. Madox Brown. 

To the citizens of Manchester I owe some loyal grati- 
tude, and I now seek by plain speaking their profit, not 
my own as I believe your Decorative Committee also do, 
but very blindly for I am amazed to hear that the idea 
of committing the decoration of your Town Hall to foreign 
artists is still entertained, and that a section of your Com- 
mittee have even gone the length of visiting Austria, to 
determine for themselves the merit of these painters. But 
I venture to say that their merit is in this case entirely 
outside the question at issue. 

Had the Germans and French called in foreign artists 
to adorn their town halls and public buildings, where 
would have been the present capacity of the painters of 
these two nations for public works ? 

By inviting or receiving foreign painters you taunt 



200 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

English artists with incapacity, whilst you rob us of a rare 
opportunity of disproving your objections. Have English 
painters failed when tried ? Witness the noble works of 
Barry, in the Society of Arts at London on which he 
starved as the result of his enthusiastic devotion. Witness 
the Houses of Parliament, where the Government, at least, 
acted with a right spirit of national patriotism in inviting 
British painters to prove their fitness for great decorative 
pictures. To that invitation there came a triumphant 
response in the three great exhibitions of Westminster 
Hall, revealing a wholly unexpected amount of genius for 
poetic and historic design on a grand scale among English 
painters. And what Englishman with soul and eyes can 
look on the works of one of the chosen artists, Maclise 
in the presentation of his country's great victories, Tra- 
falgar and Waterloo without feeling a just pride in his 
country's art ? The pictures themselves are victories, won 
by the national enthusiasm of a painter who hitherto had 
been bound down to small easel pictures, and was untried 
in large works. Where on the Continent, in modern 
public works, will you find their equals for greatness and 
naturalness of conception combined ? Yet who expected 
such a result from Maclise till the stimulus of a national 
subject, and the gaze of a nation's eyes, were applied to 
him ? 

Had the Royal Commission invited Kaulbach and 
Cornelius as foreign painters practised in large decorative 
works, we should nave lost these two great pictures, and it 
would have been supposed Maclise was incapable. Simi- 
larly with Cope, who rose far above what he was generally 
supposed capable of, and has produced his very finest 
works on the corridor walls, works which will make his 
name honourable as long as they exist. 

To have placed these decorations in the hands of 
foreign artists, no matter how great or skilled, would, I 
scruple not to say it, have been foul shame to England 
for ever. Compare this right procedure with that resolved 
on in the decoration of Glasgow Cathedral, where the 
painted glass was given into the hands of German de- 
signers of great skill and experience, but utterly unable 
to comprehend the necessity of adapting their designs to 



ENGLISH OR FOREIGN ARTISTS? 201 

the style and spirit of the grand Gothic structure which 
they now painfully deface. 

But I fear I protest in vain nor do I speak in my own 
interest. Such tasks ever involve heavy and unforeseen 
labour, with envyings and vexations, and prove unre- 
munerative, if not absolutely beggarly, when executed with 
a conscience. My one object is, if it be possible, to dis- 
suade your Committee from exposing themselves to 
merited obloquy by placing any part of this work in the 
hands of foreigners, and to entreat them that this first 
opportunity for the decoration of a great civic building in 
England may be given to English painters whose hearts 
and art are in sympathy with their own brethren. 

You did not cross the Channel for a foreign architect. 
You will answer, " No ! because we were able to obtain 
the services of a man of proved capacity." But his 
capacity had been proved beforehand, because he had been 
trusted with a great building when comparatively un- 
known, and as a consequence he astonished England with 
the Assize Courts. 

But we English painters your own children are 
dogs, neither to be tried nor trusted, and the very crumbs 
due to us are given to your foreign adopted children. For 
very shame's sake, if none of your own blood can be found 
whose character and ability entitle them to your confi- 
dence, let the walls remain blank till such men arise or 
are discovered, nor place in the hands of strangers another 
unjust advantage for boasting over your country's poverty 
of art. I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient 
Servant, FRED. J. SHIELDS. 

P.S. To me all is a simple question of British art 
versus foreign, not of any English artist or artists against 
Messrs. Guffens & Swertz. 



Shields and his wife still exchanged letters almost 
daily. The girl, thrust into an atmosphere of " prunes " 
and " prisms," with no experience but that learned in the 
streets of Manchester, save her strange first year of married 
life under the instruction of her devout husband, evidently 



202 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

found it very hard to adapt herself to her new environ- 
ment and the restrictions of a school. Her rare beauty 
no doubt added to her difficulties, and made her mistakes 
and her high spirits doubly conspicuous. 

37 FITZROY SQUARE, 
Monday Evening. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, I was glad to hear so good an 
account of your health and conduct from Miss Bell, who 
thinks you much improved in many ways. You say I am 
always finding fault with you, and you think Miss Bell 
can see no good in you, so I hope it will satisfy you to 
hear this. But I have been, on the other hand, very 
grieved all day so as to upset me very much that when 
you had lost the key of your machine-box you should 
force it open, breaking the lock, and should then, without 
either explanation of it or any expression of sorrow for 
your folly, coolly tell me that it is broken in your letter 
of to-day. I quite expect they will make me pay for the 
box ; they can do, for they could not sell it so damaged. 
If you had expressed any regret for such thoughtless con- 
duct, I should have said nothing about it ; but as it is I 
cannot help feeling very much pained. With my dear 
love to you, I am ever, your loving husband, 

FREDERIC. 

The Photographic Company absorbed some of his 
attention, and the following letter from Rossetti indicates 
that Shields was superintending the reproduction of one of 

his pictures : 

FRIDAY NIGHT. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, It really and truly seems too bad 
that a living and breathing woman should suffer for the 
sake of a mere picture of. one ! Do you not perceive that 
an indignation meeting of Mrs. Shields with herself is 
about to pass an awful female vote against me, the English 
Autotype Company, and your cherisned self, so far and so 
degrading ? 

To Brighton, my boy, is my advice. Let the Company 
take care of itself till you come back, and then they can 



THE YOUNG WIFE 203 

get the drawing and set about it. I find it is not likely to 
be quite ready before Monday. Let this determine you to 
go where you are most wanted. Don't suppose for a 
moment that I am ungrateful for such kind and truly 
brotherly care for my interests in this matter ; but the 
very drawing itself seems to look from its window and 
reproach delay. With love to Brown, yours affect., 

D. GABRIEL ROSSETTI. 



The admiration felt by Miss Bell and her partner for 
the genius of Frederic Shields, doubtless made any lack of 
perfection on the part of his wife particularly shocking to 
them. From reference to her poor little ill-spelt letters we 
gather how she longed to get out more, to dance, to play, 
even upon the piano, the very thought of which would 
have distracted her husband. 

LONDON, Sept. 29th, 76. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, And do you think I would forbid 
your learning to dance if I thought it well for you but I 
did speak about it to you enough to show that whatever 
I said before, I felt when I was last at school that I would 
rather you did not learn to dance. It really grieves me that 
you should take it hardly especially as I have just got a 
letter from Miss Bell, giving you such a good character for 
keeping rules, and industry, that it has made me quite as 
happy as I can be under present circumstances. And I 
was delighted that you are learning to sing, which will 
give you and me much pleasure I hope. This constant 
rushing about in trains, and the disappointment of every 
place I have seen as yet, leaves me little time and strength 
for writing. It is hard for me not to see you for another 
week, but this is a time of hard trial for me, and often I 
feel I could lie down and cry for weariness only I try to 
say Thy will be done. I am glad you were at chapel 
on Sunday, and that the teaching was good to your heart. 
I found a Methodist Chapel near Fitzroy Square, and 
heard a most moving sermon on the first chapter of 
Colossians and the 27th verse : " If you continue in the 
faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the hope of the Gospel." The good preacher recalled to 
mind the numbers of those whom he had known in the 
congregation, who had once seemed to be the disciples of 
Jesus, out had been moved away from the hope of the 
Gospel, the hope of being saved from sinning, as he 
thought of these the preacher wept in the pulpit for 
sorrow and pity. Your last letters are an improvement in 
writing, and Miss Bradford gives me the best account of 
you. I am so glad you really have your sins always 
before your face. There is but one way to avoid sin, and 
that is to put the Lord always before your face. Ever 
with deep neart love, your husband, FREDERIC. 

Rossetti's last letter was followed by a week end at 
Brighton. On the following Monday he writes again. 
The drawing referred to is the chalk study for " La donna 
della Finestra," the picture afterwards purchased by Mr. 
F. S. Ellis. " The English Picture Publishing Company " 
consisted of Mr. Charles Rowley, Mr. George Milner, and 
Frederic Shields, but there was no legal partnership. Mr. 
Rowley says : " It was all done under Madox Brown's 
influence, we lost half our cash, but we spread some fine 
things, the like of which was not on the market." The 
photographs alluded to in these letters were the first repro- 
ductions of his pictures which Rossetti had allowed to be 
published. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I believe I may consider the 
drawing completed now, but it had better have a day's 
grace. Could you spend Wednesday evening with me, 
coming at about 8 or half-past, and dining beforehand, as 
the culinary complication of which you became aware last 
time you were here resulted next day in my being left 
cookless, and the want has not yet been supplied. A man 
is my sole domestic in the house at present, and though 
he cooks for me, I cannot ask my friends to a share not 
that his cooking is amiss, but that he has so much to do 
besides. Would Brown come also ? Please ask him, with 
my love. Yours affec., D. G. ROSSETTI. 



PERLASCURA 205 

Much pains were taken over this and other photo- 
graphs, both by Shields and Rossetti. Photographic 
reproduction was then far from the state of perfected 
development in which we know it now, but all his weary 
experience with M'Lachlan had taught Shields how to 
overcome many of the difficulties of the process, and 
much as he hated the very name of photography to the 
end of his days, he was always ready to serve his friend in 
this, as in any other way that his enthusiastic devotion 
suggested. 

Many other letters passed on the same subject ; in one 
Rossetti says : " I cannot but remember your kind offer to 
help me in the retouching. Your experience of such 
things must be much more than my own, and if we were 
each to retouch one unglazed proof and then compare 
results, perhaps that might be the surest plan. I know 
you are too good a fellow to mind wasted labour if mine 
happened to secure our joint votes. If they have a fancy 
to give the head a title of any kind I must dictate such 
title. But best just call it a Study." 

Apparently this being the first published photograph 
of a work of Rossetti's, it was thought desirable to give it 
a name, and the artist suggested " Twilight." However, in 
a day or two he wrote : " I have thought of another name 
for that profile head, ' Perlascura ' (i.e. dark pearl, as an 
Italian female name). What think you ? The name is 
exact for complexion." 

Again with one of his flashes of keen business instinct 
which he occasionally displayed to a surprising extent, 
Rossetti wrote : " I have meant for some time to suggest 
(but always forgot) that the dates should be scratched off 
the negatives. There is no objection to their being sup- 
posed more recent works of mine, but rather the contrary, 
and I should prefer it. The initials could stand if wished." 
So the drawing of " Perlascura " bears the date 1871, but in 



206 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the Autotype issued in 1877 this is erased. Some months 
later the poetic title was the subject of an indignant letter 
from Rossetti : 



MY DEAR SHIELDS, I heard to-day that the profile 
autotype is being sold with the title of the Black Pearl. 
Perlascura was the name I gave it, and if any other is 
given it must really be at once withdrawn from circula- 
tion. I am extremely vexed about the matter if true. 
The right translation would be the Dark Pearl, but no 
translation is needed. It seems one cannot sanction any- 
thing of this kind without serious annoyances. A shop in 
Bond Street was mentioned as the one where it was seen. 
I must repeat that if the title reported was really put on 
the profile head, it must be withdrawn at once. 



All this time Shields was still searching for a house 
where could be heard neither organs, pianos, railways, 
traffic, parrots, German bands, babies, dogs, cats, nor any- 
thing else likely to disturb his terribly sensitive nerves. 
In October he discovered a small house iii Lodge Place, 
St. John's Wood, now demolished to give place to the 
railway with its huge coaling station. The house stood 
in a small garden surrounded by high walls, in a very 
quiet little road. In October he spent a day in the 
empty house, to test its quietness. The diary records : 

"At 7 Lodge Place all day. Reading Bible for my 
glass window designs. Very cold. Caught cold." 

However he decided to take the house, and put the 
business part of the transaction into the hands of Mr. 
Theodore Watts, Rossetti's friend, who kindly managed 
the necessary formalities. It was found that in order to 
make it worth while to build a studio, he must purchase 
the lease, and this necessitated a mortgage and absorbed 
all his spare capital. Apparently no sooner was the 



THE NEW HOME 207 

business settled than Shields saw a house he liked better. 
According to the diary : 

"Oct. 26th. To West Drayton to look at house. 
Very good and likely. Walked to Stanwell. three miles 
off, with Charles Pollard to see Mr. Nelson the landlord. 
Walk by river back in dark. To London by eight. Lost 
both tickets of G.W.R. back. Bed at 1. 

"Oct. 2,7th. To see Watts he not in. To Museum 
till two. Walked back and about London. Sketched 
costume. Wrote to Rowley. Read Ariadne Florentines, 
and Bible. 

"Oct. 28th. To Watts about house. He tells me I 
am tied by Equity to take the house. Very low spirited." 

There are no more entries in the diary that year. 

He wrote to his wife at Brighton : 

MY DEAREST WIFE, Only the money arrangements 
about the house remain to be concluded and I hope 
these will be all right in the end. In some respects, and 
on your account chiefly, I would have avoided the house 
if I could, but I see only ruin staring me in the face 
unless I take some house, and I can't find another, so 
we must just make the best of it and thank God for all 
He gives us, which is very much, and trust Him for the 
future. I am sure everybody at Brighton will disbelieve 
this poor nobody when he says he cannot come. I have 
got home so tired that I can scarce write this, and cannot 
enter into reasons except that I shall and must be at 
Rossetti's on business to-night, and absolutely must be 
at the house early on Monday morning. What a plague 
the dishonesty and delay of workmen is and what I 
have to suffer from it you will never know in your com- 
fortable nest, where no real trouble comes near you, nor 
anxiety how to provide for yourself or others. It is well 
I made no promises when I would come back, the way 
the men have absented themselves from the house these 
three days past will compel me to stay now to look after 
the alterations, they are not to be trusted and want 
watching like thieves. God bless you, my darling. I 



208 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

wish I could be on my way to you to-night. Tell Miss 
Bell and Miss Bradford what I say. Ever your own 
hubby, FREDERIC. 

The building or enlarging of the studio was an 
anxious matter, and as, through the introduction of his 
friend Mr. Alfred Waterhouse, he had now an important 
commission to design stained glass windows for Sir 
William Houldsworth's chapel at Good ham, Kilmarnock, 
it was a matter of vital importance that the artist should 
be able to settle to work at once. His wife was also 
evidently very anxious to leave the school at which she 
had remained so much longer than she had anticipated 
when her husband left her there while he spent two 
months in Italy. Her impatience was as great as his to 
have some settled home for the first time since their 
marriage. 

Dec. 16th, 1876. 

MY DEAR WIFE, I am sorry that you have tooth- 
ache again, but the weather is so damp that one cannot 
escape something. I have a slight cold with sitting in 
cold rooms and looking after drains day after day. As 
for my coming to see you, I cannot do so for the present, 
thougn I am at least as anxious as you can be to see you, 
and I have much more reason to wish myself away from 
this mess and worry than you know. It will cost far, 
far more than I dreamt of, to make the place anything 
like fit to live in ; every day I find out some new trouble 
about floors, drainage, roofage, or something no end of 
vital matters to look after with my own eyes, of which I 
knew nothing before, and to pay heavily for my experi- 
ence. Yesterday I bought two stout blankets to send to 
your mother, she writes to me that John is out of work, 
and it makes it very hard for her and I cannot send her 
more than 10s. a week. Jessie's school will soon be due, 
10 at least, and I sent Miss Bell 5 last week, and paid 
the builder 15 on account, and all this is only the begin- 
ning. I hope you had a profitable sermon last Sunday 



"THE TRIUMPH OF FAITH" 209 

from Mr. Punshan I wish I had been with you. We 
had a very earnest sermon on John xi. 5 about the love 
of Jesus for each member of a Christian family. My best 
regards to your teachers. Ever yours in love, 

FREDERIC. 



It may perhaps be mentioned that Shields contributed 
to the support of his wife's mother to the end of her 
days. The little sister of his wife, who is mentioned in 
this letter as Jessie, was adopted as their child very soon 
after their marriage and sent to school for some years, 
afterwards living with them until her marriage. She 
grew up to be a very lovely girl, and married in 1893 the 
Rev. B. Scott. Her early death, after a few years of the 
happiest married life, was a terrible grief to Shields. A 
very beautiful portrait of her was shown at the Memorial 
Exhibition of his works. 

Early in 1877 Shields and his wife settled in their 
new home. His first work here was the series of stained 
glass windows for Sir William Houldsworth, the subject 
being "The Triumph of Faith." The work occupied 
nearly the whole of the years from 1876 to 1880, and at 
once established the reputation of Shields as a decorative 
artist of the highest rank. From that time he had no 
lack of commissions. 

In this and succeeding years frequent reference will 
be found to the commission given to Shields and Madox 
Brown, after much delay and discussion, to decorate the 
walls of the Town Hall, Manchester. Mr. Hueffer de- 
scribed the part played by Shields in this matter, in his 
Life of Madox Brown, as " the unique self-sacrifice of 
Mr. Shields." The sacrifice was indeed a great one, for 
the work had appealed far more to the younger man 
than to Madox Brown, who wrote on Christmas Day 
1876 : 

o 



210 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" I have this morning had a communication from 
Rowley (only too good to oe quite credible) that the deci- 
sion has been finally arrived at by the sub-committee 
that five rooms are to be painted by you, me, Watts, 
Poynter, and Leiyhton. I believe you will agree with me 
that this if earned out will be quite as honourable, and 
indeed as satisfactory as our larger scheme which would 
have entailed heavy responsibility in many ways. If this 
be true, you will attain your ambition of being one of the 
historic painters of the country, and in company with 
some of unquestionably the first of them of the day. I 
do not myself say that this is a very obvious advantage 
to you to my mind, you know, any kind of art one can 
do well and easily is honourable, and I would just as 
soon have painted 'Genre' works had I ever received 
any encouragement to do so but you seem bent on it, 
and you have your wish, and with your studio in London 
and these commissions you will have every facility for 
gratifying it." 

Long negotiations, innumerable council meetings, and 
various log-rollings on all sides, seem to have left the 
matter more or less at a standstill after this, for many 
months. The arrangements at the new house dragged on 
week by week. Madox Brown wrote on Feb. 13th : 

" I hope you are not ill again (that we hear nothing 
further from you) but well at work doing good things. 
Your design of Love and Time excites quite a thrill of 
approval with all who see it. Lucy and others think you 
ought to paint it and indeed if you were to increase the 
landscape in size at one side you would have at once a 
paintable design. . . . What are you about, and how are 

you and your wife ? Here we are all tolerably d d 

miserable as the British tar put it, leaving out the thanks 
at the end. But Rowley, who is off again to-day, is a dear 
little man and wishes me to paint him a Milton with a 
Cromwell doing something together. Of course I shall do 
it for him straight off, but it is rather a rude shaking off 
of all our favourite subjects just at present. But it does 




LOVE AND TIME 

Designed for a Golden Wedding 



By permission of Charles Rowley, Esq. 



SHIELDS AND ROSSETTI 211 

not matter, once on the subject I shall inspire myself with 
the feeling of it, and I designed a subject in my head ten 
minutes after. . . . There is really no news as to the other 
matter, and we -had better try to forget all about it till there 
is for otherwise we shall grow to take no interest in 
ordinary work and forget our friends that we still have, in 
the vain pursuit of this ignis fatuis like a law-suit or a 
patent invention that will not act." 

Shields had now constant intercourse with Rossetti. 
Strange sympathy between two such different natures. 
Rossetti, scornful of didactic art, and, as Mr. Watts-Dunton 
expresses it, " thoroughly indisposed towards attempts to 
ameliorate anybody's condition by means of pictures " 
Shields, on the other hand, passionately devoting his art 
to the interpretation of the Bible, having even, as we 
know, hesitated at one stage of his career as to whether 
he ought not to devote himself to preaching by word of 
mouth, rather than by his pictorial sermons. Rossetti, 
full-blooded, impetuous, Agnostic, outraging, as one 
would imagine, every sentiment of the other, whose 
ascetic nervous frame vibrated between admiration for 
Rossetti' s genius, joy in his friendship, and real terror as 
to the ultimate fate of his immortal soul. Shields often 
painted for days in Rossetti's studio, taking his own work 
and models there, and dozens of affectionate little notes 
carefully preserved, tell how Rossetti helped him, and 
sought his help in various details connected with their 
work, especially in those later years when increasing ill- 
health made Rossetti more dependent on the devotion of 
his friends. As for example: "Dear Shields, The lay 
figure stands'a monument of your friendly aid," or " I must 
have a rose tree with leaves if without trouble to yourself 
I should be glad of a tree on Tuesday," and again : " Do 
you know any means of sending me good apple blossom, 
I would pay anyone well to bring me as much as possible 



212 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

for some days to come, you would really befriend me if 
you could get me a good branch to-morrow what I want 
is a full coloured red and white blossom, of the tufted 
rich kind." 

The next note says : " Thanks for the apple stem study, 
I have been much bothered with the blossom, some of 
which I have repainted since you saw it. As to stem, I 
have a bad one in my garden, and with the help of your 
study I might manage. The bark of the bough brought 
by your messenger is as black as London bark, though I 
believe he brought it from Edgware, so how far to seek 
for grey or green bark, Heaven knows ! " later, " I hope 
to see you to paint to-morrow, as for me I am stuck fast." 

The diary for 1877 is very irregularly kept, and there 
are no entries until June. 

" Tues., June 12th Rose 6.30. Walk. Breakfast. 
Prayer. Read Matt. 14. Mrs. Brown called, wished me to 
go to Brown about Manchester Town Hall business. To 
Heaton Butler's with glass design at 3.30. To Covent 
Garden and Sir John Soane's Museum (Hogarth's). To 
Brown's at 6.30. Home at 9. 

" June 15th. Worked at 'A Street Song' red chalk. 
To Bank and Exhibition of Japan Sketches. To Brown's, 
arranged list of subjects for Manchester Town Hall. 
Home 10.30. 

" June IQth. Began You shan't go ' red chalk. 
Worked at East Window all afternoon, thinking them out. 
To Rossetti's after tea, found him very ill in bed. 

" June 27th. Working at central windows for Good- 
ham. To S. Kensington in afternoon with Cissy, in 
Library, looking over Mediaeval works. To Rossetti's at 
7, found him very ill. 

"July 5th. Working at three central windows. To 
see Brown in afternoon. To Mrs. Rossetti's in evening, 
with Miss Bradford. 



AT HERNE BAY 213 

"August 1st. Working at colour drawing of Mel- 
chisedec, and Crucifixion. Cayley called. To glass works 
till 6.30, to Rossetti's till 12.30. Home in cab." 

Towards the end of August Rossetti became worse, and 
went to Herne Bay with Madox Brown, who wrote : 

MB. SANDS, HUNTEES' FORESTALL, 

NR. HERNE BAY, August 23rd, 1877. 

DEAR SHIELDS. I am here for a day or two yet, having 
promised to bring D. G. R. away from his home for a week, 
till his Mother comes with his sister Christina. When I 
am gone perhaps Watts may come for a few days, and 
Rossetti wishes me to write and ask whether you would 
be so kind as to come and cheer him also. I must tell 
you that while his Mother and sister will be with him there 
will be no room for a male visitor, only a bed in Rossetti's 
room, into which the nurse may have to make an inroad at 
times in the night. I should fancy, however, that by the 
time you come, he will be so far recovered as no longer to 
require such cockering up. At present even, after six days 
only, he walks three miles, sleeps on the whole well, and 
is indeed an altered man. While the nurse and I remain 
this improvement will go on after what will happen I 
can't say ! The deluge, possibly, after me, as Louis XV. 
used to say. I get horribly bored and fidgetting down here 
reflecting upon all my own affairs going to wreck, but it 
can't be helped. My wife and Lucy Rossetti are well and 
still at Gorleston and I trust you and Mrs. Shields are 
prospering. Till meeting again, and ever, yours affec- 
tionately, FORD MADOX BROWN. 

Shields went to Herne Bay the following week, and 
wrote : 

HERNE BAY, Aug. 28th, '77. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, Rossetti had a very restless night, 
and as my bed is in his room, my rest was much broken up. 
And yet I am better for the change of air. He seems very 
much better, and would he but give up the demon Hydrate, 
he would get better, but never without this abstinence. 



214 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

How are you, my darling ? This absence will not be for 
long, I hope, for Watts will likely take my place at the 
end of the week, and whether he does or not, you know my 
position will not allow me to stay from work long. 

Mrs. Rossetti and Christina enquire very affectionately 
after you. 

This is a pretty cottage with a pleasant garden in 
front, and kitchen garden behind, with beautiful espalier 
apple trees, and great walnut trees, covered with nuts 
looidng so bonny. There is no comfort or quiet to write 
here, so that I must stop, with my dear love. Your own 
true husband, FREDERIC. 

Early in September Shields returned to Lodge Place 
and continued working at the windows, and in October he 
went to Kilmarnock, staying at Coodham with Mr. (after- 
wards Sir William) Houldsworth. 

COODHAM, KILMARNOCK, N.B., 
Oct. 23rd, 1877. 

MY OWN DEAREST WIFE, I seem to have been away 
from you a month, and am longing to see your dear sweet 
face again but what a short letter you sent me this morn- 
ing. I have been very much engaged since I came here 
with the work for I find it likely that I shall have to 
paint a picture on the wall opposite the windows, and we 
must arrange about this so that I can design it when I 
return to London. I shall have to come here again after 
that to paint it on the wall. I shall stay here a day or 
two still, but until I send you a new address, direct your 
letters here. Part of your letter was blotted, and I could 
not read it. Mind you address your envelopes properly. 
N.B. stands for Scotland, which is called North Britain. 

There is a lovely lake before this house, and a brood of 
young swans they are not white, but spotted with dark 
fawn colour, and nearly as big as their parents, though 
this Spring's birth. Their beaks are black and won't be 
orange coloured till next Spring. The old ones white as 
driven snow their wings erect at my approach, and all 
their neck feathers also. They carry their young under 



COODHAM AND MANCHESTER 215 

their wings when they are little, and their tiny brown 
heads peep out of the mother's white feathers. You 
should have seen how they pursued a black swan on the 
lake, and cruelly beat it, and bit it till it shrieked again 
I didn't like them after that. 

Look, please do, at the 2nd Epistle of Timothy and the 
3rd chapter 15 verse. 

Without the Scripture no man knows anything of God 
and God's Salvation. The Scripture is able to make you 
wise truly wise in this life, and for the life to come will 
you be content to be among the foolish virgins here, and 
hereafter too, and cry " Too late " when the door is shut ? 
Pray to God to make you wise by His Blessed Word, wise 
to know your own self, your weakness, foolishness, and 
sinfulness, and wise to know the only Lord Jesus Christ, 
who can save you from your sinfulness, and strengthen 
you to all goodness and virtue. 

God bless you, my sweet. I must close, the post goes 
out so early and I have been at work all morning. You will 
be so glad that Mr. Houldsworth likes the designs. Is not 
that a comfort, after all one's hard work ? Many hundred 
kisses and loves from ever your own FREDERIC. 

On his way back to London he stayed at Manchester 

for some days. 

MANCHESTER, 31st October 1877. 

MY DEAREST WIFE, You will be glad to hear that 
I got the drawings unpacked at Grundy's to-day, and 
that they have been a great success. The few people who 
have seen them to-day are delighted with them, and have 
sat quiet and hushed before some of them. It is of God's 
goodness and I hope they may do good. I see I shall 
do wisely to stay over Sunday in order to see friends who 
all receive me with open arms as if I were an angel. 
This long absence from you seems like a year to me, my 
sweet darling. I have had my hands full of business, but 
I shall not neglect poor Mother or Jessie. If I can sell 
these designs I shall be able to give Mother a good lift 
out of the misery she has been in so long. She is quite 
safe and well, and nothing you could do, my darling, could 
help her now, for the child is a fortnight or more old. I 



216 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

shall see her to-morrow and bring all the news I can 
when I return. Shouldn't I like to have some of your 
baking for my tea when I get home, I shan't have had 
my dinner, and shall be hungry and tired. 

Mrs. M'Laren and Miss Rowbotham send their love 
to you very affectionately. Mind that Lilly takes care of 
matches, gas, and fire. God bless you, dearest, and draw 
us both nearer to Himself from whom all blessings flow. 
With dearest love, FREDERIC. 



Rossetti, who was still at Herne Bay, had been think- 
ing of building an additional studio in his garden, and 
now wrote : 

" You will be glad to hear that since I last wrote my 
hands have rather decidedly improved, though not yet 
right. My object in writing to you to-day is to ask you to 
enquire, when opportunity offers, all particulars respecting 
Herkomer's wooden studio, price of building, time occupied 
in erection, &c. I do not know what my moves may be, 
but I think it is pretty evident that if I were in London 
now, I could work somehow. I hope you have yourself 
been more settled in health since your return to London, 
and that you find no difficulties as to work. ... I am 
making a drawing of my mother which is quite up to 
my mark and much the best likeness I ever did of her. 
It would be graceless in me not to believe now that I may 
consider myself restored to the power of work. Moreover, 
in London, I had back-weakness which forced me to give 
up continually, though cushioned all round in my chair, 
wnereas I believe now, I could go on for at least four 
or five hours without needing a rest. I am much in- 
terested in hearing of your work. In these glass cartoons 
you have developed a vein which must be appreciated 
if you can only secure field enough. My mother and 
sister unite in kindest remembrances." 



The idea of a wooden studio was quickly abandoned, 
and a week later Rossetti wrote again : 



ROSSETTI'S LETTERS 217 

" Many thanks for sending me Herkomer's letter, 
which seems in several ways conclusive. Even if one 
could build a wooden studio it would not do if equally 
objectionable with an iron one. ... I lately wrote to 
Rae of Birkenhead, offering him (he is the oldest and 
most faithful of my buying friends, not to disparage one 
or two others, but they seem really filled up) well, after 
this mighty parenthesis offering him that little picture 
with landscape called the "Water Willow," and telling 
him of a larger one, the " Proserpine." I asked but 300 
gns. for the "Willow"; but his answer is that he is spending 
thousands in building a new house and fears he cannot 
buy at present. He is likely to be in London in about 
a week, and will then look at the things, but I apprehend 
he won't buy. Do you think it would be any good 
offering the small picture at 300 to Turner? I have to 
send him back his water-colour drawing and so this 
would give some opening. Truth to tell, this spending 
with nothing coming in is not calculated to raise the 
spirits. In any case it would be necessary to wait for 
Rae's ultimatum after his visit to town. I have no 
intention of going to Broadlands, but how long I may 
still be able to get on here, I don't know. My power 
of work is not essentially impaired at present, I believe, 
but I must confess that enthusiasm no less than encourage- 
ment seems other than it was. I shall be very glad to 
see your fine series of stained glass cartoons, but apprehend 
that your visit to Kilmarnock cannot be a very short one 
if there is a prospect of your painting a frieze there." 

Apparently this letter evoked a reply from Shields 
suggesting that the use of chloral had something to do 
with Rossetti's discouragement, and he again writes to 
Shields, who is still in Manchester : 

HERNB BAY, October 21st, 1877. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, On thinking over the point of 
perhaps offering the little picture to Mr. Turner (it is now 
gone to Rae, but I know he will not buy) it strikes me 
strongly that Mr. Turner did take a strong fancy to this 



218 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

particular head, that he wrote to you after seeing it, 
asking if you knew its price that you asked me, that 
I told you 500 gns. (which was what I always meant to 
ask if I parted with it) and that he thought it over his 
mark. If it was so, what I say will probably recall the 
matter to you. I certainly think it did occur. However 
there would in that case be a difficulty in offering it 
to him now at a lower price (though my long illness 
compels me to an unwilling willingness to take the 300), 
and the question, if opened to him, would be best alluded 
to by me in some way when I return his water-colour. 
I have finished a chalk head of my sister, which I 
think so successful that I am going to do another of my 
mother before I leave here, as the one I did does not 
now satisfy me. 

As to the eternal drug, my dear Shields, if I suffer 
at times from morbidity, it is also possible for others to 
take a morbid view of the question. I am quite certain 
that I have, as an artist should, made solid progress 
in the merit of my work, such as it is, and this chiefly 
within the last five years, during which I have supplied 
by application, some serious qualities which had always 
been deficient in practice, and produced, I will venture 
to say, at least a dozen works (among those covering the 
time) which are unquestionably the best I ever did. In 
those only which need deep tone, will it be found. Some 
are among the brightest 1 ever produced, as " La Bella 
Mano," "The Sea Spell," and I may add (for lightness 
rather than brightness) the " Roman Widow." The only 
picture indeed which at all really tends to darkness is 
the " Astarte," and I remember that on the only occasion 
when you saw this by daylight, you quite exclaimed 
as to its brightness and fulness of colour when properly 
seen. To reduce the drug as far as possibility admits 
is most desirable (at present it is reduced to less than 
a third of what I started with here) ; but if an opinion 
were to get abroad that my works were subject to a 
derogatory influence which reduced their beauty and 
value it would be most injurious to me, and would in 
reality be founded on a foregone conclusion as to the 
necessary results of such a meuicine, and not on anything 



ROSSETTI'S LETTERS 219 

really provable from the work itself. I now find that 
I have written more than enough in a vein which I hope 
does not seem too egotistical. 

I expect Brown here again before I leave, now that 
he has finished and despatched his picture doubtless 
now as fine as it promised to be when I saw it. It is 
sure to aid his name. I suppose I shall not be leaving 
much before the end of this month, but I think certainly 
not later. My mother and sister unite in kindest regards, 
and I am ever, Affectionately yours, 

D. G. ROSSETTI. 

Subsequently the "Water Willow" picture, "Proser- 
pine," and "Fiametta" were all purchased by Mr. Turner, 
a Manchester friend of Shields and by him introduced to 
Rossetti, for the round sum of fifteen hundred guineas, 
and Rossetti sent the news to Shields. 

" I really must let you know that I have just succeeded 
in doing some business with Mr. Turner, who brought 
with him a friend long known to you Mr. Faulkner. 
Mr. Turner acted, I am convinced, in the most liberal 
spirit, though in these bad times some concession on 
my part was necessary on his taking, as he has done, 
several works together. Perhaps you may see him and 
Mr. F. before this reaches you, as they were proposing 
to look you up. Thanks about the house in St. John's 
Wood. I have just heard that Topham's house at Hamp- 
stead is to let ; 1 shall get Dunn to look at the two 
together. I have to thank you greatly, I am certain, 
for keeping up Mr. Turner's interest in my work, which I 
perceive to be a genuine one." 

Shields' visit to Manchester was somewhat prolonged, 
but at last he wrote in a cheerful mood to his wife : 

.''. .'! .;. 

MANCHESTER, Nov. 8th, 1877. 

DEAREST LOVE, I am glad to tell you that I have 
realty, really sold the drawings to-day. It was not quite 
certain till now, and that is why I have stayed another 



220 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

day. I shall have a rush to get away to-morrow morning, 
but I shall make a great eftort to get back, being quite 
sick of rushing about and seeing people and talking from 
morning till night. I can't tell you what train I shall 
start by, so I cannot ask you to meet me, and you must not 
be disappointed, my sweet, for I shall have a great deal 
to do, and may be driven to a late train, or I may get off 
by an early one as I want to. I am just going up to 
see Jessie again and bring you the last news about her. 
Have some tea ready for me when I come. I don't even 
know what line I shall come by, nor what station I shall 
arrive at, so that it is no use coming to meet me. 
Your own, FREDERIC. 



Soon after he returned to London he received this 
amusing request : 

MANCHESTER, 20th Nov. 1877. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, I am going to ask a favour of 
rather a queer sort because I trust you to say no without 
hesitation. Do you see this beast enclosed? Well, he 
is a trade mark, which my son-in-law's house has been 
using for the African trade, and which they now find is 
an infringement of some other body's animal. So they 
are abandoning it, and my daughter came up to me this 
morning did I think Mr. Shields would draw her some- 
thing of a similar sort to use instead, and would I ask 
Mr. Shields for "Edward" was so anxious to get some- 
thing that would strike the nigger mind (!) and did not 
know where to go, &c. I ventured to suggest that 
perhaps your style was scarcely so broad as the "Felis 
Leo" enclosed, and that it was rather Infra Dig to do 
such a thing. But she seemed so disappointed that I was 
fain to promise to ask you if you would give them a 
drawing of any beast known and respected on the West 
African coast, in a sufficiently rampageous attitude say 
a Tiger (are there any in Africa ?) or a Lion, &c. If he 
had a nigger in his mouth, or if he were in the Nigger's, 
it might add poignancy to the production. 

I know what an absurd request it is to make and 
please understand that if you have the slightest objection 



DR. ALEXANDER M'LAREN 221 

I rely on your being honest and saying so. Not all 
the lions in Africa will make me anything but Yours 
very faithfully, ALEXR. M'LAREN. 

The request must have been promptly complied with, 
and a rough sketch sent, with a request for a description 
of the correct native costume. 

MANCHESTER, 30th Nov. 1877. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your lion was so long behind your 
letter that, I was afraid he had broken out of the mail 
bags, eaten the P.O. clerks, and was devastating the 
country about Stafford. However, my fears are gone, 
and he has come. 

We are very grateful to you (I mean my wife and I, 
the young people will speak for themselves) for your 
swift kindness in this matter, and do not know which to 
admire most, the good nature which consented, or the 
deft hand which drew such a monster. That nigger leg, 
with the toes up to heaven, is grand. If the goods don t 
go with such a leg as that, it's a pity not to mention the 
tail. Lejeune is in raptures, and evidently sees himself 
notorious over several degrees of latitude or is it 
longitude ? 

He will see about dresses but I thought they had 
none. Manchester philanthropists I understood were 
slowly elevating them in "the scale of moral and intel- 
lectual beings" by sending them calico to induce them to 
wear it on the principle " clothed " first and " right mind " 
afterwards. But I did not know they wore anything 
except fig leaves of a more or less literal kind. How- 
ever, they shall be got and sent you, if possible, and there 
will be a big obligation afterwards for your kindness, 
which is felt to be even larger than your lion. 

Don't you keep those hammers, that you speak of, 
going "overtime." That is the most wasteful kind of 
work ; and I wish brain- workers had a trades union which 
prohibited it, as joiners and carpenters do. I shall be 
grateful for photos of the Crucifixion group. That centre 
panel haunts my memory, and I shall be thankful to have 



222 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

it for my eyesight too. I am to be in town next week, 
but it is only for a day, preaching, and I am afraid I shall 
not get near St. John's Wood, either to see friends or 
relatives. By the bye, that last word reminds me of what 
I often meant to say. I have a sister in St. John's Wood, 
a very respectable woman, kind and motherly, and with 
lots of practical cleverness. She has a large household 
would you care to make her acquaintance for Mrs. Shields ? 
If so, 1 will tell her to call on you. If not, all right. Just 
as you like. Yours always, ALEX. M'LAREN. 

The decorations for the Manchester Town Hall were 
now in the air again, and Madox Brown wrote on December 
19th : 

" Waterhouse has been here. His object to ascertain, 
before meeting the Committee of Decoration at Man- 
chester, if we were still up to the work of the great Hall, 
as he reckoned on settling that for us next week. It 
seems Gosse the poet, who is an old friend of his, had told 
him that I did not care two pence about the job, and also 
from his last interviews with yourself that he had derived 
a similar impression I let him understand that we had 
both of us plenty to do, and that had we cared so very 
much about the matter we might both have been dead 
before now that we never of late even mentioned the 
matter, but that I believed we neither of us had changed, 
provided the conditions were not changed. That, how- 
ever, from my point of view the conditions might for all I 
knew already have been changed, because it was one 
thing for us to work in company with some of the finest 
artists in the country, and another to form part of the 
group of nobodies such as there was talk of giving the 
rest to. We talked over this matter, and how these three 
men had tried me before going to Watson, and how absurd 
the whole thing is. I said it was like asking for two years' 
time to prepare themselves to write poetry like Shake- 
speare or Homer. Waterhouse agreed to state to the 
Committee that should they insist on giving the other 
rooms to these Manchester beginners it was likely I would 
refuse to co-operate. This is what passed. No news of 



FRESCOES FOR MANCHESTER 

Rowley as yet ; should you see him don't forget William 
Rossetti's Shelley lecture to-night at 8 at his house. 
The previous engagement here to dinner you will not 
forget." 

Eventually it was decided that six frescoes in the Great 
Hall should be entrusted to Madox Brown and six to 
Shields. Then began endless discussions as to the choice 
of subjects, which were to be submitted to the Council by 
the two artists, and as Madox Brown plaintively remarks 
in one of his letters : " What chance remains of a Common 
Council deciding reasonably on matters of Art ? " 

Meanwhile Rossetti, putting finishing touches on his 
pictures for Mr. Turner, wrote from Cheyne Walk : 

" Can you dine with me Monday 8.30 ? If not, would 
you post a note in time for me to get it first thing that 
morning. I have been painting a rough version of the 
proposed change in Fiametta's drapery. It fits with 
wafers over the picture so as to judge from, but really I 
cannot make my mind up, and have no opportunity of a 
second opinion. To destroy so much work is very serious 
and risky. I would like your views. Come a little earlier 
if you can and so see it by daylight but if not, it can 
quite be viewed by gas." 

In December Rossetti wrote again : 

" I am grieved to learn that money bothers have been 
assailing you. If I can be of any service pray give me 
that pleasure. I shall be receiving a large remittance 
next week from Mr. Turner (as I know for certain by a 
letter just received), and am not without funds in hand 
now, so don't delay if of any use. I judge from your note 
that you might perhaps not be able to come down so soon 
as to-morrow, but if you can, I shall be alone and delighted 
to see you either at dinner at 7 or later. If you can come, 



224 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

perhaps you can bring at any rate ' a red chalk morsel ' or 
two for contemplation. Fogs have not certainly been so 
bad here as in your neighbourhood, where I know that 
darkness exists when light is everywhere else. The exhala- 
tions of the deep mud soil in the Regent's Park district are 
truly afflictive.' 



CHAPTER XIV 

The Duke of Westminster's Chapel at Eaton Hall Rossetti and James 
Smetham Madox Brown begins work at Manchester Rossetti's 
" Launcelot and Guinevere." 

THE diary for 1876 recorded work on the Coodham win- 
dows and various red chalk studies, several of which are 
published by the Autotype Society. Shields' success in the 
hitherto untried medium of stained glass now led to the 
same architect friend, Mr. Waterhouse, offering him an- 
other commission of much greater importance. This was 
to design the stained glass and mosaics for the Duke 
of Westminster's beautiful chapel then being built at 
Eaton. The subject chosen was the Te Deum Laudamus. 
Although Shields did not like designing for glass, recog- 
nising that it was by no means an ideal medium for his 
thought, this commission certainly offered him his first 
great opportunity, and the large scale on which the draw- 
ing had to be made completely revolutionised his style. 
He found the technical difficulties great, and until he had 
gained experience in the selection of the coloured glass, 
the effect when the first windows were in place was fre- 
quently very disappointing. But writing years afterwards 
of this commission, he says : 

" The opportunity for which my whole longings 
and aims had fitted me come at last, late but come ! 
My soul kindled and flamed with the subject accepted, 
the glorious hymn of St. Ambrose, the Te Dewm. 
Nearly ninety subjects, all told, not isolated, but such 
as could be linked in blessed continuity to keep the 

225 r> 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

heart hot, and the mind quick, with its grand purpose 
the praise of God and of His Son Jesus Cnrist, from the 
lives of apostles, prophets, martyrs, and the Holy Church 
of all the ages. My love of the written word of God and 
all my longings after nobler avenues for expression in my 
Art had been fitting me for such a work. 

" It revolutionised all my views of design, imposing 
bounds upon me that purified and ennobled my style, 
while the practice in drawing upon a large scale gave me 
great increase of knowledge and power, and the necessity 
of grappling with the fine disposition of drapery gradually 
taught me how much the dignity, grace, and action of a 
figure depended upon this feature, and made me seek 
arter excellence in this respect eagerly. It is a branch of 
art that is most unteachable, nothing but study of the 
works of the greatest and purest masters will teach it. 
Fra Angelico in purely ideal draperies is supreme and 
there is so strange a likeness to the finest Chinese designs 
in his draperies, which stand apart in Italian art, that I 
must think that he had become possessed of some tine 
Chinese designs, and based his taste upon them. At 
Orvieto, where Signorelli completed the chapel begun by 
Angelico, how heavy, cumbrous, and inorganic is the 
disposition of the draperies of Signorelli when compared 
witn that noble compartment of Angelico's, wherein the 
prophets sit tier upon tier in their stately beauty. It is 
worth travelling thither from England to see this alone, 
and I parted from it with slow, lingering gaze." 



The diary for 1878 commences : 

"January 2nd. Red chalks till 1. Upset by Lilly 
upsetting table and ink. Quite ill. To National Gallery. 
To Brown's lecture on Style ; met Long, R.A." 

Lilly, often referred to in the diary, was a young maid 
who had accompanied them from Manchester, where she 
had for some time filled the place of maid and companion 
to Mrs. Shields at Ordsall Hall. The incident is a 
pathetic reminder of the constantly overstrung condition 
of the artist's nerves. 



JAMES SMETHAM 227 

"January Wth. At work all day at scheme for Eaton 
Hall Chapel. To Brown's and Rossetti's. Bed at 2 A.M." 

Visits to Rossetti were responsible for many very late 
nights in these days. His habit of frequently dining as 
late as 9 o'clock and retiring at all hours of the morning, 
ran counter to all Shields' previous habits of life. The 
long distance from Cheyne Walk to St. John's Wood was 
often the cause of his spending the night at Rossetti's, 
especially in bad weather, but the menage was curiously 
unlike what Shields had been accustomed to in his 
hermit days. He used to relate how Rossetti would 
breakfast at noon upon eight eggs in a row, that he 
would then paint until dark without any other meal until 
the long-delayed dinner, by which time his guest not 
having such a capacity for breakfasting would be suffer- 
ing real pangs of starvation. 

"January 25th. To Grosvenor Gallery with Miss 
Thomson. Wrote descriptions of 'Faith' cartoons. To 
Rossetti about Smetham." 

Much correspondence passed at this time between 
Shields and Rossetti with regard to their friend James 
Smetham, whose health, both mentally and physically, 
had completely given way, and they both seem to have 
made great efforts to assist in disposing of his unsold 
pictures. Rossetti had many of them at his studio, and 
effected several sales to his own friends and patrons; 
some were sent to friends in Manchester and elsewhere, 
and the business is alluded to in Rossetti's letters for 
many months. 

In February the Manchester business is again causing 
much speculation, and various communications pass be- 
tween the two artists and the Town Hall Committee. 

Rossetti, at the suggestion of Shields, was working on 
some of Smetham' s unfinished pictures, knowing that the 
sensitive hand which had commenced them had lost its 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

cunning for ever, and anxious that the works entrusted 
to him should appear to the best possible advantage, he 
wrote on Feb. 13th : 



" I wish I could report any progress with the Smetham 
business yet. I wrote to Mrs. Cowper-Temple, but have 
not her answer yet. To-day I have written to Valpy who 
is in Italy. Graham I have seen no more. I am very 
anxious about the matter and have no doubt of some 
results. Meanwhile do you know whether the Smethams 
are in want of funds to go on with ? If so, I would con- 
sider the practicability of making some advance and 
reckoning on sales, which, though delayed, must I think 
occur to some extent. The delay in my movements has 
depended partly on a wish to get something done to the 
works (as you suggested) to give them a little better 
chance, and this I have been unable to set to yet, owing 
to the necessity of getting Graham's predella forward. 
The latter is now nearly done, and to-morrow or next day 
I trust to put a little work into the pictures sent to me. 
The truth is that to do any real good to them will cut 
into time, and I am most harassed to think what position 
our poor friend may be in. Have you any further news ? " 



The diary now records a visit to Manchester with 
Madox Brown to attend the meeting of the Town Hall 
Committee. 

"February 26th. Left for Lichfield by 7 train. 
Drove to Hoar Cross. Saw Bodley's church with Water- 
house and Heaton. To Manchester and slept at dear 
O'Connor's. 

"February 21th. To Town Hall Committee. 

"February 28th. To Chester by 7 train. To Eaton 
HalL Slept at Waterhouse's. 

" March 1st. Back to London at 11. 

" March llth. To Brown's to write letter of terms to 
Committee of Manchester Town Hall. To Waterhouse's 



STAINED GLASS 229 

with Brown. Dined with Brown, Rowley, and J. D. 
Watson. 

" May 18th. Really began the Duke's windows." 
A year or two afterwards, writing to a friend in Man- 
chester, he sent the following account of his views on the 
subject of stained glass in general, and this commission 
in particular : 



" The scheme I proposed to His Grace was the illus- 
tration of the Te Deum. This was decided on, and will 
comprise nearly a hundred subjects of Angels, Apostles, 
Prophets, Martyrs, Holy Church, with subjects from the 
life of Christ, and symbolic figures of Christian Virtues 
and Graces. 

" The glass usually fixed in churches, however ad- 
missible some of it now is in decorative effect, is entirely 
without purpose, and I had almost said wholly without 
reverence, for the subjects treated. It is composed of 
spots of colour, repellent or attractive to the eye according 
to the artist's skill ; but the mind or heart of the worship- 
per whose eye fastens on it finds nothing in it warranting 
its obtrusion on his vision in God's house. The designers 
follow one another, as in Byzantine bonds of tradition. 
Now wherever this traditional treatment appears to sit 
with deadly purpose on the expression of the subject I 
have to represent, I break myself loose from it ; while 
I reverently regard it where it is itself subject to the 
authority of the Scriptures. 

" . . . It is my aim to make the designs as distinctly 
didactic as possible, without losing regard to the neces- 
sity of decorative effect. And in style I am always 
struggling after purity of contour, elevation of individual 
character, and intensity of expression. Yes, it is only stained 
glass, an art invented by Goths and only fit to be continued 
by Goths in my esteem ; but it finds me noblest matter 
of design, keeps me germinating high thoughts and inven- 
tions, and lifts me out of the petty trifling of petty sub- 
jects and imitative facility to which I must otherwise have 
gone on applying my efforts." 



230 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Rossetti wrote (one of his numerous undated notes) 
about this time : 

" Many thanks for the beautiful studies you have sent ; 
they are most complete, and will be sure to fit in for the 
little I need. I must trust to your not thinking me a 
humbug in not having made any appointment yet, after 
so much delay. The fact is, these Dits of white drapery 
needed to be settled, and have had to be changed several 
times all you saw went next morning. I am getting 
them right now (white undersleeves as well), but shall not 
be clear of them till the end of the week. Suppose we 
fix Wednesday of next week definitely say 2 o'clock and 
to stay dinner. . . . You shone last night with such 
lustre of diplomacy that I must needs sena you the draft 
of a letter which I propose writing to Turner for the elicit- 
ing of your views thereon. Witn it I send one of his, 
most kindly enclosing a cheque for Smetham. You will 
see by his letter that he is rather likely to be in town 
almost immediately ; and thus, were it possible for you to 
read and return my draft (with due inculcations) in time 
for me to get it to-morrow evening, I should be glad." 

The first week in June the diary records every after- 
noon spent painting in Rossetti's studio : 

" June 28th. Dorcas finished. Began Angel with bit. 
Took to Waterhouse the first window for Eaton. 

Wednesday 3rd. To town to see Waterhouse. To 
Heaton, Butler's, to see Rahab, Moses, and Gideon glass. 
To Moore and Burgess' Minstrels with Cissy in evening a 
wretched entertainment." 

The entertainment had such a depressing effect that 
he records himself as very unwell for two days following ; 
though on the Saturday he was so far recovered as to 
spend the evening with Rossetti, and to actually return at 
1.30 on Sunday morning, an unheard of commencement 
of the Sabbath. 

June and July were months of depression and ill-health, 




EZEKIEL ST. JAMES THE LESS 

Two designs for the Duke of Westminster's Chapel 
From photographs by the Autotype Fine Art Company, Ltd., by permission 



WILLIAM BELL SCOTT 231 

though the work was slowly proceeding. William Bell 
Scott, staying with Rossetti at Miss Boyd's in Ayrshire, 
wrote announcing their arrival, and asking for a photo- 
graph of the beautiful design of " Love and Time " : 

PBNKILL, GIBVAN, AYESHIBE, 
1st July 1878. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, The day before I left London, 
Austin Dobson, my friend and brother poet only much 
more popular saw the photo of " Time and Love " you 
gave me, and was so struck by it, I took upon myself to 
beg one from you for him. He will frame it in gold and 
write a rondeau or a triolet, or some other conceit about 
it. D. G. R. tells me you did the drawing for a friend's 
" Golden Wedding," or Silver one ; and if you would have 
the goodness to send him the photo, pray write him this 
information, which will interest him as he is a domestic 
and amiable bloke. 

We arrived here after a warm journey on Saturday. 

With affectionate regards, Yours very truly, 

W. B. SCOTT. 

In this month matters with regard to the Manchester 
frescoes were so far advanced that Madox Brown wrote : 

" It would appear they fancy that we are at work. What- 
ever this may mean, I fancy it requires a change of tactics 
to meet them. I have begun the ' Baptism of Eadwin,' 
therefore, because it comes readily to my hand, having done 
the sort of thing before as you declared you would not 
choose for yourself. However, this is only one for a begin- 
ning. I have got some medium and colours from Rober- 
son's,as they supply it to Leighton for his South Kensington 
Spirit frescoes. I am going to try it on my square of 
plaster, and there will be enough for you, I should think, 
if you wish to experimentalise upon yours." 

August was spent in work at St. Matthew. Shields' 
days were spent between his studio and the glassworks, 



232 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

varied with occasional days of research at South Kensing- 
ton or the British Museum. 

Madox Brown writes from Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, a 
remarkably cheery letter from a man in bed with the 
gout : 

August 25th, 1878. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Here I have been since Wednesday, 
the day after that on which I saw you, held fast in bed by 
the gout. I am rather better to-day, and should wish to 
be well enough to return home on Wednesday, but 
must take what comes grinningly. You know all these 
here parts, and I emphatically don't, so I won't write to 
you about them ; but I shoula have nevertheless written 
to tell you how we were getting on (very jolly we all are), 
when yesterday a voluminous packet came stamped Cor- 
poration of Manchester. Don't be alarmed ; I have mas- 
tered it all, and have answered both Heywood and the 
Committee Clerk. The first named with the slightest per- 
ception of banter, which I find is the only way to deal with 
him. To read his letter which I do not send on to you, 
for it would drive you mad one would suppose he wished 
us to write out eighty-four lists of all our twelve subjects 
over again, plus alternate ones and incidental remarks of 
an agreeable nature for the edification of the members of 
the Corporation. But he meant nothing; the Clerk's 
letter explains all. They only wish in a fit of generosity 
to present each of us with an impression of the Corporation 
Seal. 

Could you, from memory, write out the Cotton Famine 
subject again? It is unfortunately locked up in my 
bureau at home. Yours as ever, 

F. MADOX BROWN. 



In this month Rossetti was much perturbed about 
some forged reproductions of his pictures, and wrote : 

" Burne- Jones sent me to-day one of these heads sold 
as mine which a friend of his had bought. Of course it is 
a forgery, and I must take some immediate steps about it 



A FORGED PHOTOGRAPH 

now writing to the papers or something. Must see Watts 
on it forthwith." 

Shields, having considerable experience in the ways of 
dealers and photographers, evidently offered some advice, 
for Rossetti writes again : 



"I have sent your note on to Watts. He has been 

to A , but I do not fully know with what results as 

yet. I should think it by no means improbable that 
he might like to go again in your company, as you have 
some experience of these rascals in a transaction connected 
with drawings. ... I really do not see, in spite of any 
difficulties, how a public denial of these things as my work 
is to be avoided. The mere prices charged for them are 
so trivial as to strike at the root of my market, and them- 
selves so contemptible as to discredit me completely." 

Writing a few days later on the same subject : 

" Re A . Watts thought well of the plan of your 

accompanying him if necessary, but finally I made up my 
mind to write to Athenceum and Times, and had just 
despatched a note to the Aihenceum when Mr. Wynd- 
ham (who bought the dummy drawing, which I think 
you saw here) turned up, and thought it better that he 
should make the first move. For this he got me to arm 
him with a letter declaring it was not my work, and I 
contrived to withdraw the Aihenceum letter pending his 
proceedings. All this was on Thursday, and I have not 
seen or heard from him again. . . . Many thanks about 
writing to Turner. 

" Suppose you dine with me on Tuesday, if at your 
disposal. 

"P.S.Re Butterworth. I would give 20 for the 
drawing ; I got 15." 

The postscript suggests the curious history of one of 
Rossetti's early pictures. Butterworth was the old friend 



234 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

whose landscapes Shields used to embellish, in his youthful 
days, with figures and cattle ; he was also at one time 
Ruskin's assistant. 

Early in the fifties Rossetti did a water-colour for 
Ruskin one of his beautiful luminous drawings looking 
almost like a bit of glowing stained glass, the subject 
being the last meeting of Launcelot and Guinevere. The 
queen, in the garb of a nun, is kneeling on the sunlit 
grass beneath a tree, beside the grim carven effigy of her 
Lord, while Launcelot, in crimson tunic, leans over the 
stone breast of the figure, yearning for one more guilty 
kiss. Ruskin, later on, wrote rather petulantly to Rossetti, 
complaining of some alteration in the picture, saying : 
" You've scratched the eyes out of my Launcelot, and I've 
given it to Butterworth." 

Now, after twenty years or more, Shields had evidently 
found the picture still in Butterworth's possession, and 
told Rossetti, who was anxious to buy it, but did not wish 
Butterworth to know who was the would-be purchaser. 

On Sept. 4th he writes again to Shields on a postcard ; 
" You might tell friend B. that your buyer will go 30 for 
that water-colour: that is his tether: no more will be 
offered." 

Evidently some terms were made ; the drawing again 
came into Rossetti's hands, and while he had it Shields 
made a very perfect copy, which remained in his possession 
until his death. Rossetti soon sold the picture again to 
Mr. Graham. 

The following letter shows Madox Brown in doubt over 
the subjects of what were eventually two of the most in- 
teresting of all his grand series of frescoes one represent- 
ing Crabtree observing the transit of Venus, the other 
John Kay, the inventor of the fly-shuttle, being saved 
from the rioters by his wife, who concealed him in a 
wool-sheet. 



MANCHESTER SUBJECTS 235 

"I have been at the Museum Library two or three 
days since I have seen you, and should, I think, pretty 
well have cleared up for us all doubts worth entertaining 
with respect to our subjects. ... I wish to write to 
Thompson, but first ought to clear up about Kay and the 
wool-sneet. Can you advise me as to this matter ? Kay 
seems to have been a sort of friend and hanger-on of Ark- 
wright. I doubt if there is any biography of him. There 
is still doubt as to Crabtree being a sufficiently important 
character. I must consult with you about the matter, 
and as to the Danes I can as yet discover no authority 
for their taking Manchester, though no doubt they were 
fighting all around them and were no doubt there often 
enough; but I must consult Malmesbury. So there are 
still three doubtful subjects. I have been trying the 
square of plaster, and this seems equally a doubtful sub- 
ject. 1 must talk the matter over with you when we 
meet; meanwhile if you find out anything more about 
Kay, pray remember him." 



A week later the diary records half a day spent over 
the Duke's windows, and half with Brown over the Man- 
chester subjects. 

In November Shields was working at a design illus- 
trating Blake's poem, " Little Lamb, who made thee ? " 
two children in a field with a lamb, the elder child being 
drawn from his adopted daughter Jessie. 

On the 15th Rossetti wrote : 



" When you come to-morrow suppose you bring the 
' Lamb ' drawing. Bates was here yesterday, an ex- 
tremely nice, genial old fellow. He is an ardent Blakeite, 
and the drawing is so valuable that I think you might 
well dispose of it either to or through him. He is going 
to look in late in the afternoon. When you come, let me 
suggest your resuming your rightful coat which is still 
lying here, its pockets full of prophets. I'd like your 
views as to that drapery study." 



236 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Bates was the Leeds dealer already referred to in con- 
nection with the sale of Smetham's pictures. 

Later in the month came several letters from Rossetti 
about a poor man whom he was anxious to befriend, asking 
Shields' advice as to setting him up in a little shop in 
Manchester or elsewhere. He writes : 

" Thanks for the letters, they are valuable. No doubt 
the view taken is but too true, yet enforced inactivity is 
so fearful a thing that I will try to help poor C. to some 
use for his limbs and brain, if it be but for a while. He 
has tried for over fifty situations as book-keeper and failed, 
owing to his age, which must be considerably over my 
own. I do not fancy his health is broken, thus if em- 
ployment could be found for him, I judge he is equal to 
it. He is quite without means, and has a wife. 

" What a lark the Whistler case is ! ! I must say he 
shone in the box, the fool of an Attorney-General was 
nowhere. I am glad to see that Ruskin is not to be hauled 
out. I send you a letter from Bates, but I suppose he 
wrote to you also about the sale of your drawing. I have 
actually got a blue face on the lonides canvas ! I hope 
to see you on Wednesday." 

The year 1878 closes with continued work at the Eaton 
windows, the last entry being : 

" Dec. 28th. Model for St. Thomas, sketches for two 
lower subjects. To see Holman Hunt, afterwards Rossetti, 
he very ill ; back at 2 A.M." 

In 1879 the question of the subjects for the Man- 
chester work was still absorbing much attention. The 
commission was given jointly to Shields and Madox 
Brown; each was to be responsible for six of the large 
spaces on either side of the Great Hall. Meanwhile the 
designs for glass were still proceeding. 

" March 3rd. To glassworks all morning ; St. James 
successful. Wrote out ideas for Philip and Andrew. Took 



MADOX BROWN AT MANCHESTER 237 

Cissy to concert in evening; Joachim played, didn't 
like it. 

" April 17 'th. Began Andrew ; had to alter pose of 
legs from the nude study by standing myself for them 
and the drapery until tea. Went and bought prints in 
Hampstead Road. To Rossetti's. 

"April 24th. To Oxford with Rowley by 10 o'clock 
train. Saw Jones's lovely windows at Christ Church. 
Keble Chapel (Oh, Butterfield !) " 

Early in April Madox Brown proceeded to Manchester 

and wrote : 

TOWN HALL, MANCHESTER. 

DEAR SHIELDS, I date to you from this, to us, 
memorable place. How I have ever got here seems to 
me a puzzle and a dream. I find it very comfortable, 
the only fault about my box (for it's like a box at the 
opera) being that it is far too comfortable, and I fear not 
to be abandoned often enough to see the effect of one's 
work, at a distance. At night when I'm all alone, with 
an excellent gas-stand, it is perfectly delightful ; and by 
daylight I feel charmingly free from household worries. 
I have not yet begun on the wall myself because I am 
delayed by want of more medium, but I have given the 
first coating to one space and rubbed down three others, 
all ready to coat when the stuff arrives; and the man 
now is fit to be trusted to do the others by himself. The 
cartoon seems highly successful with all who have seen 
it, and all the masters and servants at the Hall are as 

pleasant and attentive as they can be except Mr. , 

who is a Philister and will not let me have a room in the 
building. However, his race will be run in another six 
months. ... I am so glad to know you have sold one of 
your large cartoons here. Remember me to D. G. R. 
when you see him, and tell him I would he could see me 
at my box at the opera, and how I have arranged it with 
bits of string rolled up and stuck on pegs." 

The subjects were all by this time practically agreed 
upon, with the exception of the last, which seemed to 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

be especially difficult to decide. Shields used to relate 
dramatically the scene at a meeting at which one of the 
councillors rose and declared that they were all in favour 
of the last scene representing " The Opening of the New 
Town Hall." Madox Brown whispered furiously to 
Shields that this meant that the councillors wanted all 
their portraits painted, and was rising with an angry 
protest, when Shields pulled his coat-tails and whispered, 
" Shut up, Brown, for goodness' sake ; don't you see all 
these old fellows will be dead long before we get to the 
twelfth cartoon ? " Madox Brown's suggestion was " The 
Peterloo Meeting (which led to reform which led to Free 
Trade, without which no steam-power could have availed 
at Manchester)." But this seems to have been considered 
too controversial a subject ; a letter from him, dated 
August 30th, 1879, says: 

"You will have received a communication from the 
Decorative Committee to the effect that they have now 
definitely settled on 'The Opening of the Bridgewater 
Canal' as their twelfth and last subject. I don't know 
what caused their extreme tenacity on this head as far 
as I could see it resulted from one of their number, Mr. 

Councillor (who rules them by reason of a certain 

preponderancy of nose and chin) having seen somewhere 
a picture by a local artist representing 'a canal at 
Amsterdam,' and having been very much struck by this 
performance, and as it would appear not ever having in 
nis life before examined any other picture, he wishes to 
see something like it on the walls of the Great Hall. 

"In confirmation of this theory is the fact that he 
once commissioned a local painter to paint some ' shoot- 
ing grounds' he owned somewhere, but after paying for 
the same loyally, almost broke the said local man's heart 
by steadily refusing to look at the work simply for the 
reason that he thought he had done enough in ordering 
and paying for the same. I perceived it was no use 
standing out, and seeing that it must be long before the 



DR. ALEXANDER M'LAREN 

Canal scene need be begun, I thought it best to let them 
have their way after protesting. If it came to the worst 

I would do it. T gave the strongest reason in favour 

of the subject, for he said that a quarter share in the 
same canal had recently fetched 8000 in the market at 
Liverpool. This was unanswerable ! . . . The Gambier- 
Parry process I still find all that I can approve of. There 
are difficulties with the work, however, that one could 
not count on such as shadows cast at certain hours by 
the projecting piers on either side and sunshine at certain 
hours. These of course I manage to counteract in divers 
ways, but the result is that time is wasted and the 
difficulty of obtaining the desired effect increased." 

This letter from Alexander M'Laren acknowledges 
photographs of some of the Coodham windows : 

MANCHESTER, 3rd April 1879. 

MY DEAK FRIEND, Your gift of this morning has 
given me the renewal of a great pleasure. I have been 
looking at these designs again with fresh admiration and 
thankfulness that you have been able to witness in them 
so nobly for the Master. I feel their beauty none the 
less because I prize them most for their wealth of reverent 
thought and profound suggestiveness. ... In power and 
harmony, in weighty meaning expressed in fair shape, in 
delightful and not too misty symbolism, they seem to me 
to surpass all that you have done, so far as I know it. 
And one feels that they are not the work of a man who 
looks at Christ as an artist, but of a painter, who looks at 
him as a Christian. I only wish they were not going to 
be buried in a hole in Ayrshire, where nobody will see 
them but Presbyterians, who will think them "Rags of 
the whore of Babylon," or spinners who will wonder what 
they cost. When are you coming down here ? You will 
not forget to give us as much of your time as you can 
spare from swells who can give commissions. We are 
getting gracious sunshine even here at last, and, ungrate- 
ful as we are, it makes me restless and longing for Italy 
or the New Forest, or anywhere, if only there are larks 
and primroses and budding elms. 



CHAPTER XV 

Mrs. Cowper-Temple Painting in Rossetti's studio Leyland's Botti- 
cellis Priscilla and Aquila Christina Rossetti and the fairies 
Letters to Mrs. Kingsley Gilchrist's Life of Blake Shields resigns 
the Town Hall commission. 

IN June 1877 is mentioned Shields' first visit to Lady 
Mount-Temple (then Mrs. Cowper-Temple). Introduced 
to them by Rossetti, Lord and Lady Mount-Temple were 
afterwards among his kindest and most intimate friends ; 
they came to his help in one of the most tragic crises of 
his life, and they introduced him to Mrs. Russell-Gurney, 
who gave him the great task which occupied so many 
years of his life, and was only completed a few months 
before his death. 

"May 23rd. Worked at St. Jude till 1. To Mrs. 
Cowper-Temple's to lunch till 4. To Rossetti's back at 
2 A.M." 

So were the summer months spent, Shields working 
at the big designs for the Eaton windows, and doubtless 
greatly developing his mastery of colour under Rossetti's 
generous help. Mr. Hall Caine records, in his Recollec- 
tions of Rossetti, a conversation in which Rossetti told 
him : " I paint by a set of unwritten but clearly defined 
rules which I could teach to any man as systematically 
as you could teach arithmetic ; indeed, recently I sat all 
day for that very purpose with Shields, who is not so 
great a colourist as he is a draughtsman ; he is a great 
draughtsman none better living, unless it is Leighton or 
Sir Noel Paton." Not for one day, but for many days 
Shields worked in Rossetti's studio, and his rules for each 



240 



PAINTING WITH ROSSETTI 241 

day's painting were all carefully written down as they 
fell from his lips, and form the substance of a notebook 
illustrated with diagrams and preserved by Shields. Did 
space permit it might be included here, but the technical 
details would perhaps be out of place. 

This is another of Rossetti's undated notes written 
about the end of June : 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, When you come to-morrow try to 
bring some of your work with you if you can. Davies was 
here on Friday and brought some astounding incredible 
miraculous designs in silhouette (cut out with scissors) 
by a youth, a nepnew of Smetham's. They are from 
Milton's Allegro and Penseroso. I am writing and asking 
if he could possibly bring them again to-morrow, and meet 
you, as he wants to know you. The boy is a marvel. 
His work is up to Flaxman's very finest, and each design 
cut out in five minutes, whatever subject you give 
him! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

I really judge you ought to make a start and get away 
for awhile, though assuredly none would miss you more 
than myself. Calais as nearest and new, would I fancy 
be a good goal. You would delight in making sketches 
on the ramparts. Your affect. D. G. ROSSETTI. 

The diary at this time contains many references to ill- 
health and weakness which led to a brief holiday this 
month. 

"June 20th. To Rossetti, beginning oil painting of 
Mary Magdalene. 

"June 27th. Colour sketches for St. Andrew and 
Philip. To Rossetti's painting Magdalene, dinner at 10 P.M. 
Home at 2 A.M. 

" July 7th. Vine leaves in Sinful Woman. Finished 
Simon and Jude. To Mrs. Cowper-Temple's to lunch. 
To Grosvenor Gallery. 

" July 9th. Left for Petersfield by 5 o'clock train with 
Cissy." 

Q 



242 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Rossetti wrote : 

16th July 179. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I was most glad to hear that Mrs. 
Shields is already the better for her change, and hope the 
improvement will increase. . . . 

I regret much that you should have lost Mrs. Cowper- 
Temple's visit and she the sight of your late work which 
would have really rejoiced her, and into every detail of 
which she would have entered with loving attention. She 
and Mr. Temple called here the other day and I also missed 
them ! The why, you will think, is to seek. The fact is I 
was engaged in selling to Ellis a picture (" The Lady of the 
Window ") which I afterwards learned they had come to 
buy and having given orders to Dunn that no one was 
to come in, he even excluded them. I was delighted to 
hear that Mr. Temple was right again, his changes are 
most fitful and I am glad to hear he does not mean to 
stand for the next election. However I think they'll 
want something else (probably not for themselves but for 
a friend whom I also know) meanwhile the picture is 
sold. I had written it down a thing, but I won't because 
of the sitter, to whom I owe the best of my art such as 
it is. ... 

I am sorry to note that you do not mention Mrs. 
Stillman's pictures at the Grosvenor ! I fear they may not 
be her best. The good kind creature wrote me to-day 
with the address of a nice model, " a friend of hers " a 
poor lady I judge who wants to earn a little. She is 
spoken of as " refined and suggestive " for Dante subjects, 
i.e. ladies in such. 

The second predella is getting on to the canvas but I 
haven't yet put colour to either. The supposed Blake 
portraits are to be sent to Palmer. The otner day I saw 
Allen the Silhouettist. ... I gave him the advice to get 
through the Slade Schools, make his Academy drawings 
there, go in for the R.A. Studentship and do the cut and 
dried thing altogether. That is the right course with but 
one life at disposal, and so many millions of fools to dis- 
pose of that. 

I sold some books for him to Marks who wants to 
charter him, but this I advised him to eschew, also wood- 



LEYLAND'S BOTTICELLIS 243 

designing altogether, into which he seemed getting drawn 
by some advisers i.e. as a hack to some engraver. . . . 
I am trying the Leeds Blake man as to a further market 
for poor Smetham's works, but no answer yet. He would 
at least appreciate them. My Mother and sister are gone 
to Seaford. This seems the last scrap of news. Best love 
to you and kindest remembrances to your wife. Yours 
affec., D. G. ROSSETTI. 

P.S. By the bye, here's an extra bit of news. Perhaps 
you know Botticelli's four pictures of the story in Boc- 
caccio where a cruel lady's ghost is hunted by a bogey 
hunter and dogs. These were in Burke's sale some few 
years back, but bought in at a high figure of reserve. Lately 
they were at Christie's again without reserve, and were 
sold, three to a London dealer and the fourth to a Paris 
one. Leyland bought the three London ones for 800. He 
was then in doubt what to do about the Paris one, till 
Ned Jones told him it was the finest of the lot ; where- 
upon he sent to Paris and bought it for 900 i.e. a 
hundred over the other three in a lump. He then sent 
them to be cleaned, which they have been most success- 
fully and need little or no retouching on the excellent 
renewed surface. The alterations were laughable. The 
naked ghost-lady had been draped throughout and her 
heart and entrails (as thrown to the dogs in one of the 
scenes) obliterated, leaving inexplicable results. This, 
however, was all in water-colour and came off quite easily. 
However, the oddest is to come. The Paris picture is 
pronounced on all hands to be a school work and not a 
real Botticelli, though doubtless always forming part of 
the series, of which Vasari speaks. Why Jones thought 
it the best is a mystery, 'Murray and other good judges are 
unanimous about it, and Leyland says it is plainly inferior. 
Still he was right in getting the lot. I am doing a head 
of him for a wedding present to his eldest daughter, but 
have begun two already without quite pleasing myself. 
His head is really fine, but there are difficult points in it. 

Madox Brown was now beginning to wonder when 
Shields was going to commence his share of the Manchester 
frescoes, and wrote : 



244 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

THE TOWN HALL, MANCHESTER, 
July 18th, 1879. 

DEAR SHIELDS, Rowley tells me you are gone to 
Shottermill. ... I hardly know if this will reach you, but 
I have long had it on my mind to write to you on some 
important matters connected with the decoration of this 
Hall, and this is almost the only opportunity I have had 
of doing so for so long, that at all hazards I will now grasp 
it come what may of the letter. First let me say I nave 
rumours that you are beginning the Wickliffe design, if so 
let me congratulate you, and if not, permit me to say that 
I think it would be very desirable that you should make 
some show in this direction. It is work that must pay 
quite as well as your other work, so that whichever you 
do it can make no great difference pecuniarily, and from 
the numerous questions that are put to me, 1 think it is 
not a matter that ought to be procrastinated much longer. 
Hitherto I have refrained from writing on this topic from 
the fear of worrying you, but now I think it would be 
wrong to delay doing so longer. ... I am not quite so 
satisfied with the Gambier-Parry process as I was at first. 
I find it keeps on drying and getting paler and weaker for 
three or four weeks, which makes it difficult to know what 
one's work will look like. So that I may possibly do the 
next in water-glass the wall being roughened up. 

Things here are looking awfully down, but I must now 
conclude. I have near done with the Baptism. Best 
regards to your wife. Yours, F. MADOX BROWN. 

Rossetti writes a day or two later : 

July 21rf, 1879. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Write me a line when you can. 
How long will your stay be from London ? Can you tell 
me whether Mrs. Smetham is at home ? I wrote her some 
days back and have received no answer. The occasion 
was my sending all Smetham's little pictures here to Mr. 
Bates of Leeds (whose letter you saw about Blake) and I 
wished to know her lowest views as to prices. . . . He 
seems to be that strange creature a dealer who admires 
the spiritual only and sells nothing but what he admires ! 
I must try and know him. . . . 



ROSSETTI AND MADOX BROWN 245 

Murray has got out some divine photographs, which 
you will enjoy greatly. One from J. della Quercia the 
fountain figures, but very small he will get me others. 
Two Botticellis recovered from whitewash in a scarred 
state are nevertheless ravishing. 

I hope you are doing well, and Mrs. Shields also, to 
whom pray give my best regards. Your description of 
your dwelling sounds as if your honeymoon ought to have 
discovered it. . . . Yours affectionately, 

D. G. ROSSETTI. 

P.S. I write from a house servantless and so far blest. 
The last of the lot went out to-day, and to-morrow I 
expect two new ones promising decency at any rate. 

Madox Brown had for some time cherished a special 
aversion for an elderly domestic at Rossetti's, which went 
so far that he refused to visit the house while she was 
there. The news conveyed in Rossetti's postscript must 
have been forwarded to him by Shields, for Brown writes 
another letter, undated, but evidently a little later than 

the last. 

" MANCHESTER. 

" Ever so many thanks for the magnificent cat you 
have sent me; Rowley twigged it on my table, and his 
heart seemed to yearn towards it or to itwards, as 
Swinburne would put it. For indeed his whole poetical 
practice seems to have reduced itself to this particular 
form of this particular preposition. It lessens the amount 
of his mannerisms. The puss must have been drawn by 
one who had some knowledge of his subject. It is a pity 
the head is not turned the way 1 want it but the motion 
of the ears and tail is most valuable to me, and I find I 
have room for the tail in this position. The news you 
send me also about the proceedings at D. G. Rossetti's is 
almost as glorious as the cat itself it is in fact of another 
feline that we speak, and whose expression must now look 
very like the one you sent me with tail ominous of fight 
and claw lifted to strike. I should have springes set in 
all the areas and bells fixed to the windows lest she should 



246 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

get back on the premises after the manner of cats. Has 
the very old one who used to open the door been served 
with a similar notice ? Otherwise, depend on it, the 
quarantine will not long keep the plague out ; it will 
creep back through the keyhole, and then comes, like 
Macbeth, his fit again." 



On July 23rd the diary records: "Left Haslemere 
7 P.M., home 9.30. Thank God for all mercies. 

" August 15th. Study for ' Priscilla and Aquila.' " 

For details as to accessories for this design he sought 
the assistance of Holman Hunt, who wrote an interesting 
letter, giving details and diagrams of the construction 
of goat's-hair tents the black tents of Kedar which, 
however, he did not think Priscilla and Aquila would 
have used, as they did not dwell in the desert. The goat 
hair is woven into a narrow black or brown cloth, about as 
thick as "stiffish towelling," and these are sewn together, 
the tents being ranged in a semicircle the letter ends with 
the friendly offer of the loan of a goat's-hair cloak. Shields 
spent the remaining months of this year in steady work at 
the Eaton windows and in painting with Rossetti. The 
diary continues much the same record. 

" Dec. 2Qth. To Rossetti's Broke glass and tore picture 
of Mrs. Morris through recklessness. Left very miserable 
to see Scott about it. Rossetti sent Miss Asher up with 
comforting note and invitation to return and dine." 

This is evidently the "comforting note": 

DEAR SHIELDS, It can't be helped, but it can be 
mended I believe. I don't mean to say that I hadn't 
rather almost anything else had happened. I'll hope to 
see you to dinner and we'll consult about the mending. 
The worst of it is, the delay of this Xmas season if one 
sends it anywhere, and I shall be needing to begin the 
picture. Your affectionate D. G. R. 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 247 

The year 1880 finds Shields engaged in much the same 
routine, with brief entries in the diary recording each day's 
work with rather monotonous brevity, varied by domestic 
details of scant interest. 

" Jan. nth. Dreadfully foggy, ' Angel of Tares ' till 2. 
To Holman Hunt's to see his picture of 'Flight into 
Egypt.' To Rossetti's. Befogged there all night. 

" Feb. 2,6th. Tracing angels. To glassworks till 6. 
To Holman Hunt's meeting on Deceased Wife's Sisters. 
William Rossetti, Stephens, William Morris, Burne-Jones, 
and Richmond there. Excited meeting." 

This was a meeting organised by extreme Ritualists at 
St. James's Hall " To oppose legislation of marriage with 
a wife's sister." (They leave out " deceased," Holman 
Hunt pointed out in sending the notice to Shields asking 
him to come and help to prevent the perpetuation of this 
law as " opposed to Bible edicts and to all common sense 
and righteousness," by opposing the resolution at the 
meeting.) 

" March Sth. East windows all morning. To glass- 
works. Waterhouse pleased with the windows now done. 
To Mrs. Evans Bell's party, late in getting back. 

" March IQth. Study from Cissy for ' Eve in Paradise.' 
Reading and studying for East windows. To see Christina 
Rossetti." 

This undated letter from Christina Rossetti was probably 
written about this time : 

30 TOREINGTON SQUARE, W.C. 

DEAR MR. SHIELDS, I must beg your patience and 
favourable construction for this letter, for it may appear 
to you that I ought not to write it. Even if so, you are 
one to make allowance for a conscientious mistake. I 
think last night in admiring Miss Thomson's work I 
might better have said less, unless I could have managed 
to convey more. I do admire the grace and beauty of 
the designs, but I do not think that to call a figure a 



248 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" fairy " settles the right and wrong of such figures. You 
(as far as I know) are no dealer in such wares. Therefore 
I think it possible you will agree with me in thinking that 
all do well to forbear such delineations, and that most of 
all women artists should lead the way. I ought not now 
I fear to be having to say awkwardly what should not have 
been so totally ignored in my tone last night, but last 
night's blunder must not make me the slave of false 
shame this morning. 

Do not answer this : I am not afraid to have offended 
you. 

My mental eye is fixed on fetching the dear photo- 
graph I hope possibly to do so to-morrow and then 
quickly to send it to you. But if a longer time elapses, do 
not think I am forgetful : sometimes I am hindered. Very 
sincerely yours, CHRISTINA ROSSETTI. 



If the " dear photograph " was not fetched on the 
following day, Shields must certainly have replied to this 
letter and it is interesting to conjecture what his reply 
may have been ! Of all men he had the most holy horror 
of anything approaching what one might call " nudity for 
the nude's sake " in art, and in Manchester in 1870 had 
collected signatures for a public protest against the 
Heywood prize being awarded to what he considered an 
improper picture. The drawings with which he had 
innocently thought to delight Miss Rossetti were the 
exquisite child fairies which Miss Thomson had designed 
for Christmas cards and other decorative uses. It is 
difficult to realise that even in Victorian days a poetess 
could be shocked at those fairy dream children with their 
dainty tinted butterfly wings and sweet baby faces. One 
would imagine that they were just the children to delight 
a maiden aunt, so good, so pretty, and so innocent one is 
before me as I write, sitting on a honeysuckle, talking to 
a bumble-bee almost as large as itself, and like the bee 
attired only in gauzy wings. 



SHIELDS ON DRAPERY 249 

In connection with this, it is rather interesting to read 
Shields' advice on the subject of drapery in a letter written 
some time before, which has been kindly sent to me by 
Miss Thomson. 



" What shall you do other than sea fairies ? I don't 
know doing them so beautifully, what you might achieve 
in other subjects, but hitherto I look on most of your 
work as the playful sport of a kitten with a worsted ball. 
It knows not its power. It shall toss mice soon, yea rats 
mayhap with teeth, and count that play then. . . . And 
to find subjects that you feel a heat about, or that will get 
up a heat in you when found, you must seek them, in 
books, in your memories, in your hopes and fears, in the 
streets and the house, seek them diligently, and you shall 
find them, subjects that will^ you like a good glove and 
you will know as soon as you try them on, which they are. 
When the pencil speaks out of the abundance of the heart, 
it can be eloquent like the tongue out of the same full 
well. Hence I am happier and gaming more skill and 
power in the Bible designs than ever in my life. I grow 
more in a week than in years of the dull grind of uncon- 
genial work which I have so long endured. 

"Drapery! This strikes me you will have to meet 
that difficulty some day when people who live above 
water will have to be dealt with. Its conception by diffe- 
rent artists and natures is very expressive. Grave or gay, 
majestic or playful, calm or tempestuous, its lines and 
masses express all moods; and so to design your own 
draperies that they shall support and sympathise with the 
mood of the being they clothe is a problem which exer- 
cises the artist's tailoring talents to their utmost stretch, 
for no rules guide him here, no measurements, no ideal 
principle of form deduced from the antique or fine nature. 
And as soon as you undertake any other, or almost any 
other, subjects but water babies, you will find yourself 
strangled by calicoes and flannels, or burnt by them like 
the shirt of Nessus, till you wish the whole race had 
remained in Adamite innocence, if only for the cost to 
your brains of dressing them with propriety. 



250 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" When do you think of coming up, or down, to London ? 
I hope it may nap when my nose is eased from the grind- 
stone a wee bit, and I can get to some of the grand places 
with you. You can compare school with school, method 
with method here ; can resolve what is food and what is 
poison ; can discern between good and evil in quite a new 
way when near and among tne finest, though I miss my 
dear old friends so, so mucn. . . ." 



On March 15th the diary continues : " Very unwell. 
Wrote to Mrs. Kingsley. To glassworks from 2 till 8.30." 
Miss Kingsley has kindly forwarded the letter referred 
to: 

7 LODQB PLACE, N.W., 
15.3.1880. 

DEAR MRS. KINGSLEY, For some time past I have 
been engaged on a work of large dimensions, a series of 
designs illustrative of St. Ambrose's grand anthem, the 
Te Deum, for the mosaic and stained glass decorations 
of Eaton Hall Chapel, Chester (the Duke of Westminster's). 
Since I came to London to settle, I am entirely without 
any cultivated Christian acquaintance or friendship upon 
whom I might call for counsel in some of the greater 
difficulties of invention, as, say, the character of St. Paul ; 
how best to present that wondrous soul, and with what 
accessories to set forth his work as one of the " glorious 
company of the Apostles." It is true, I have formed 
views of my own concerning the best method of designing 
some of these difficult figures, casting aside all traditional 
treatment ; but fain would I have the help of some earnest 
Christian, learned, and with a love of art enough to make 
him sympathise with my aim. 

Once I could have come to Mr. Kingsley with certainty 
of finding in him all I seek ; but now I am without anyone. 
Were dear Howson in London, and had leisure for half an 
hour, he is, I surmise from his noble Life of St. Paul, such 
a counsellor as I need ; but I could ill express in writing 
the conflicting views which divide my mind. The Rev. 
Llewellyn Davies is near to me ; and sometimes, as he has 



MRS. KINGSLEY 251 

preached, I have thought he might afford me help if I 
knew him. 

I know that what your friendship can devise to help 
me in this matter I may rely on ; but time presses for the 
completion of the work, and what I do must be done 
quickly. It is so long since through any avenue I have 
heard of your health, which was most feeble last year, and 
cannot have improved beneath the strain of the past ter- 
rible winter, that I feel much doubt whether I ought to 
trouble you ; though I shall be grateful if you are able to 
give me such an introduction as I seek, without strain 
either upon /your own strength or the kindness of your 
friends. Believe me, dear Mrs. Kingsley, most truly 
yours, FREDERIC J. SHIELDS. 

The request evidently met with the kindest response, 
and he wrote to Mrs. Kingsley a week later : 

" The reception which your introduction secured me 
from Mr. Llewellyn Davies evidenced how kindly you 
must have written ; and you will be glad to know that on 
the point which caused me most to halt, he threw out a 
suggestion which was of the most essential service. He is 
fond of Art, and was full of sympathy and desire to help 
me in future hesitations or ignorance. So that I scarce 
feel warranted in using the privilege which your generous 
desire to make me ricn in sources of counsel has procured 
from Canon Farrar ; but he has been of late so steeped in 
the consideration of the life and work of the great Apostle 
of the Gentiles that out of such special store he may 
enrich me more than ever, I expect, and give me cause to 
be still more grateful for your kindness. I suppose there 
is scarcely a week that I do not feel how guided and 
strengthened I should have been by Mr. Kingsley's spirit." 

At various intervals the little garden at Lodge Place 
was tenanted by a lamb, to be replaced by another when 
in the course of time it grew to large and unbeautiful 
dimensions. 



252 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

" April 12th. All morning at sketches of lamb. After- 
noon at Blake notes for Gilchrist." 
Rossetti wrote about this date : 

" To-morrow will suit me, and I advise you to go in 
for a day's work here after your success last time. I shall 
be very glad to see the Blake notes, and have a rich treat 
for you in the way of cheap woodcuts eleven volumes 
thrillingly embellisned by Sam Williams, the earliest of 
high-spiced art-dramatists. I shall be glad to see you 
again and talk the Manchester matter over. I do not 
think the answer at all a matter of course, as Brown and 
others would doubtless view it. It must be considered in 
relation to your special state of health, &c., and it is by 
no means easy to settle. I trust you will not be drawn 
into taking any steps hastily." 

Shields had probably made up his mind by this time 
that Madox Brown should be left to complete the whole 
series of frescoes at Manchester. Madox Brown had 
written months before under the impression that the 
Wickliffe cartoon was taking shape in Shields' studio ; but 
if Shields had not always intended to let Brown do the 
whole series, he certainly very soon made up his mind 
that he himself would have nothing to do with them, for 
he early realised that the artist who had made so magnifi- 
cent a beginning ought to be allowed to complete the 
whole. Neither the persuasion of his friends nor the 
threat of a lawsuit from the Corporation could shake his 
resolution not to move in the matter. And as no power 
could compel him to evolve a series of designs against his 
will, he eventually had the satisfaction of seeing his share 
of the commission handed over to his friend. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Notes on Blake's designs Article in the Manchester Quarterly Drawing 
of Blake's room Kossetti's sonnet Aberdeen Sir Noel Paton 
Eossetti's illness His strange idea Shields visits the theatre 
Letter from Christina Rossetti The scapegoat At Birchington 
Kossetti's death. 

EARLY in April 1880, Rossetti wrote : 

" You will be glad to hear that Bates of Leeds is 
delighted with Smetham's pictures and speaks confidently 
of his chances with them. I've a letter from Mrs. Gil- 
christ greatly rejoicing on the beauty of your notes on 
Young. 

" Watts is back in town for the morning and is asleep 
on the sofa as I write ! He is delighted at the prospect 
of getting his drawing. 

" My servants are evidently excellent ones the little 
housemaid of 16 most apt and very nice looking. I only 
hope they'll stay." 

The " notes on Young " were the remarkable descriptive 
notes on Blake's designs for Young's Night Thoughts 
which appear in the second edition of Gilchrist's Life of 
Slake. Several entries in the diary refer to this. 

" March 24:th. At Mr. Bain's, writing notes on Blake 
drawings all afternoon until 7." 

In an article in the Manchester Quarterly (April 1910) 
Shields relates how an unexpected treasure trove of 
Blake's designs was brought to light. A sale catalogue 
from Yorkshire advertised some large volumes contain- 
ing five hundred and thirty designs to Young's Night 

253 



254 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Thoughts, by William Blake. The announcement seemed 
incredible, but one of the partners of Messrs. Bain, the 
booksellers in the Haymarket, travelled to the sale, and 
secured the books, which had been in the possession of 
the family of Richard Evans, the publisher of the incom- 
plete issue of the engraved designs to the earlier books of 
Young's poem. Doubt was thrown upon the authenticity 
of the designs when they reached the Haymarket, by 
critics, " even," says Shields, " as Payne Knight scouted 
the fact that the Elgin Marbles were the very crown of 
the art of Phidias." 

He goes on to say that at this juncture Mrs. Gilchrist, 
then about to publish a second edition of her husband's 
work, asked him to call and inspect the newly unearthed 
volumes. 

Shields was overjoyed at the richness of the discovery, 
actually five hundred and thirty coloured designs. He 
wrote : 

" At the beginning of each volume there is a frontis- 
piece entirely occupied by design, unbroken by text ; 
and each 'Night' has to its pages of title and preface 
appropriate suggestive inventions. The stupendous task 
that confronted Blake when he entered on this commis- 
sion, and its triumphal completion, staggers mind and 
eye as the pages are turned, revealing wonder and glory 
inconceivable. In the very fervency of enthusiasm I 
described the volumes to Rossetti, who suggested that 
some notice of so important an accession to Blake's 
known works should be added to the second edition of 
the Life of William Blake, then under preparation by Mrs. 
Gilchrist. Messrs. Bain offered me every facility, placing 
the books in an upper room at my service. There I 
spent some glad days in rapt communion with the sublime 
imagery that glowed from the amazing glory of the 
designs. There I wrote the descriptive notes which 
appear on page 289 of vol. ii. of the new edition. More- 
over, all that I could freely give to increase the interest 



WILLIAM BLAKE'S DESIGNS 255 

of the new edition was done with joy. In the manuscript 
book from which Rossetti collated some of the poems 
of Blake there was a fanciful decorative drawing of Oberon 
and Titania lying asleep in the heart of a poppy. Rossetti 
suggested that I might adapt this for the cover, which 
I did. Also, I reverently re-drew the profile of Blake by 
his own hand, which had been indifferently engraved on 
wood in the first edition, together with a profile of 
Catherine Blake, and these were produced well in photo" 
intaglio, as well as a plan of the room at Fountain Court, 
Strand. Alas, when I would have renewed acquaintance 
with the shrine I found the whole court demolished in 
1901, swept away by Strand improvements." 

The assistance given by Shields in the production of 
these volumes is described in a letter from Rossetti to 
Madox Brown which appears in his Life by Mr. Hueffer. 
That letter is undated, but must have been written in 
1880, and contains the following passages : t 

" The new Blake volumes are truly splendid. Shields 
has made the most wonderful cover from a design of 
Blake's, and has written a long paper on Young's Night 
Thoughts series, which reads as if he had been writing all 
his life. He has also drawn a most interesting plate of 
Blake and his wife from Blake's Sketches, and a separate 
one of Mrs. Blake from another sketch of Blake's. In 
fact he has half-made the book." 

One evening early in May, Shields took a drawing \ 
which he had just made, to show Rossetti. A monochrome ^ 
drawing of William Blake's room, showing the window 
overlooking the river, the cupboards, and the scanty 
furnishing unpromising enough, as one might think, for 
the subject of a picture, but over the low bed can be 
dimly seen a vision of hovering angels. Though it was 
late when Shields left Rossetti that night, he received 
early next morning the perfect sonnet which must have 



256 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

been penned in the small hours. The revised copy 
referred to in the following note, sent a few days later 
in answer to Shields' delighted acknowledgment, differs 
only in a few words from the original. 

FRIDAY. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Thanks for your loving words on 
the sonnet ; and thanks most of all, for the chance of 
writing it. I subjoin a revised copy. 

I write this line because I expect Mrs. Gilchrist and 
her son about 5 to-morrow, and I thought I should tell 
you so. But I daresay you won't think this forbids work. 
Hoping to see you, Your ever affec. D. G. R. 



WILLIAM BLAKE 

(To Frederic Shields, on hit Sketch of Blake's Workroom and 
Death-room, 3 Fountain Court, Strand.) 

This is the place Even here the dauntless soul, 

The unflinching hand, wrought on ; till in that nook, 

As on that very bed, his life partook 

New birth and passed. Yon river's distant shoal 

Whereto the close-built coiling lanes unroll, 

Faced his work window, whence his eyes would stare 

Thought-wandering, unto nought that met them there, 

But to the unfettered irreversible goal. 



This cupboard, Holy of Holies, held the cloud 
Of his soul writ and limned ; this other one 
His true wife's charge, full oft to their abode 
Yielded for daily bread the martyr's stone, 
Ere yet their food might be that Bread alone 
The words now home speech in the mouth of God. 



L 



D. G. ROSSETTL 

20th May 1880. 



ROSSETTI'S SONNET 257 

In the original the fifth line runs : 

" Beyond the steep wynd's teeming gully hole," 
and the last : 

" The words now home-heard from the mouth of God." 

A little later Rossetti wrote again : 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I was very sorry to hear of Mrs. 
Shields being unwell on Friday. I hope she is better 
now, and that I shall not fail to see you on Tuesday. I 
have done the Mike Holy Family sonnet and think it 
is quite good. I want much to look with you at the 
design of the archers. I am sending the Blake sonnet 
to the Athenceum with the inscription to you. Your 
affect. D. G. R. 

In the article in the Manchester Quarterly Shields 
says : 

" In connection with Blake's illustrations to the 
Night Thoughts, I asked Rossetti what was his estimate 
of Young; and he, pre-eminently a poet of the super- 
natural, replied : ' Young was the greatest poet of his 
century.' That Blake caught fire from the fervent heat 
of the Night Thoughts, that blazed into many of his sub- 
limest designs, is brilliantly evidenced. The volumes were 
offered to the British Museum print-room and declined. 
They went finally to America, to England's impoverisa- 
tion. The unbiassed, confident verdict of the critics, un-*\ 
trained though they may be by experimental study to 
discern the character of unaltering, unfaltering execution 
through which Blake infallibly manifests his mighty 
visionary spirit, is, however, that this spirit is specially in 
evidence in these books. No hesitation weakens the pre- 
sentment ; as Blake himself puts it, ' execution is the 
chariot of genius ; grandeur of ideas is founded on pre- 
cision of ideas ; ' for, as I have described, the designs a 
drawn on both sides of the paper, right at once, immortally 
right. Blake's early training in Basire's shop with the 

B 



258 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

graver on copper or steel, whereon every line must be 
governed by the calmest deliberation, had educated both 
eye and hand until, when he exchanged the burin for the 
pencil, pen, or brush, the forms sought were swiftly struck 
with all the grace and strength consequent upon a clearly 
conceived aim." 

Hogarth, in like manner, learnt to draw first when ap- 
prenticed to a " silverplate engraver " in Leicester Fields ; 
is it not also probable that, in the case of Shields himself, 
his early training in lithography and wood-engraving may 
have done much to develop the power and decision of 
draughtsmanship which made Rossetti compare his draw- 
ing to that of Diirer ? 

An undated letter of Rossetti's relates to a sale of casts 
at which Shields had offered to make purchases for him. 

" I forget when you told me Brucciani's sale was, but 
I don't think I can well go a fiver. What I should prin- 
cipally wish for would be useful hands, feet, &c. anything 
really likely to serve in painting, or anything very special 
in art, and not too big to find a place. I fancy Mike's 
figures are better seen in the photos than at the top of a 
book-case. If there were any portraits say Keats' of 
special interest and cheap, I'd have one. 

" I worked in the sea bird with immense effect. I shall 
be doubly glad of a double visit on Wednesday. I have 
done one of the predella designs, and should like to have 
your views as to the drawing and proportions, &c., before 
painting it. 

" P.S. Thanks about Brucciani. It's a fact a fiver 
was once a stiver. But in these times it's a keep-im- 
aliver." 

The diary is blank now until June 8th, when it 
records : 

"Left three cartoons with Heaton & Butler St. 
Matthias, Jailer and Priscilla, and Aquila." 

" June Wth. Left London for Aberdeen by steam." 



ABERDEEN 259 

Why Aberdeen was chosen is not quite clear, but evi- 
dently the journey was an exceedingly uncomfortable one, 
as shown by Rossetti's letter which follows. It enclosed 
an introduction to Sir Noel Paton, in whom Shields found 
a man after his own heart, and an artist for whose work 
he had always a supreme admiration. They afterwards 
corresponded regularly until Sir Noel Paton's death. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, Alas ! Much disaster has been 
incurred, but it is my most serious opinion that the worst 
by far is to come if you persist in coming home by the 
Aberdeen route. Such result of sleeplessness and suffering 
as you describe is enough to do away the good which, in 
spite of all, the change must otherwise effect, and I should 
anticipate serious illness for you on your return if you 
come via Aberdeen. I do not want to make you over 
anxious, but I feel that a strong expression of my con- 
viction is necessary to deter you. 

I hope you will be deterred. After all, a small money 
loss is the worst on one side on the other, a likelihood 
of far greater evil. 

I enclose a note for Noel Paton. The appreciative 
stationer is gratifying and surely exceptional, even among 
the much-reading Scotch nation. I think I told you that 
a thing called The Pen had descanted flatteringly on me, 
as I heard. I have since seen it, and it is very good (I 
know not by whom at all) but I regret to find that I 
have killed off The Pen, as its writing days ceased with 
that number. I took the head right out of my picture 
and have put it in again, more to my liking, I feel sure, 
when glazed and done. I have not yet got on any fresh 
work, except that I am recommencing that figure of Bea- 
trice (walking through street) on another canvas. I spoilt 
it by glazing too soon, and must pay the penalty. Kind 
regards to Mrs. Shields. Ever yours affectionately, 

D. G. ROSSETTI. 



Shields having taken return tickets to Aberdeen, felt 
bound to return by the same route, however uncomfort- 



260 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

able he had found it. Rossetti's next letter dissuaded 
him from this unnecessary martyrdom. 

" I had much better send you 5 ; if any surplus, you 
can return it when I see you, but you really must not 
return by Hell's Aberdeen. I fancy you must get good if 
no more Aberdeen, but only harm with that. 

" I can't conceive this election of G. R. Brown. What 
can he possibly know ? 

" I certainly didn't see what The Pen meant about 
the ' Last Confession,' but am always rather glad, if not 
all praise, so long as no spite. Leyland has sold Brown's 
' Don Juan ' for 500 100 more than he gave to 
Brookes the dealer, in part exchange for a Memling for 
which he paid 500 cash besides. I don't know how it 
will please Brown. Howell was the go-between, and told 
Brookes that his market was Manchester ; so there it will 
doubtless be hawked. As I told you, I am not hard up 
just now. 

" I'll hope to hear better news of you both next time." 

Shields and his wife arrived at Edinburgh on July 
13th. Madox Brown wrote from Manchester on the 22nd, 
apparently not aware of their expedition to Scotland. 

" Like you, I only seem to write to such as I do not 
entirely care for. The harpies which befoul life's feast, 
and make it scant and troubled through the penny post, 
are those who are too dangerous to leave unanswered 
those who forgive are easily put off. The weather has 
been rather warm the first few days of it we have had 
here this summer, but rain and thunder all day. I should 
not be surprised at another bad harvest. You may be 
surprised at my noticing this at present, but the state of 
the country is so bound up with the harvest, and the state 
of art in tne country so bound up with the state of the 
country, that one cannot help thinking of it. Things are 
much complained of in Manchester by all except friend 
Rowley, who remains always cheery despite of head or 
liver, and makes his little excursions -his ' goes ' and 



EATON HALL WINDOWS 261 

' little goes,' and ' Jacobs ' and building societies, as 
though all were prospering preparatory to his August 
trip to Scotland or Portugal. He is quite right, I am 
sure what would be the worth of his working himself to 
death ? and he manages to do all the business required of 
him, in the intervals between these expeditions. . . . 

"... Tell Gabriel, with my love, that Turner's father 
is dead. As I believe his fortunes were to turn upon this 
event, I suppose he is in luck again ! I hope so. 

" At Eaton Hall I saw your windows made up for the 
first time, of course. I was exceedingly pleased, and I 
may say surprised at them. None of the subtleties of 
detail or expression are thrown away, but, on the contrary, 
these works seem to show that stained glass is particularly 
suited for showing up these qualities the reverse of 
Gabriel's maxim, ' Anything will do for stained glass.' 

" These windows of yours seem quite original in treat- 
ment, and if Heaton & Butler's rendering of your colour 
is not always quite successful, at least you have got them 
to execute works that for drawing and expression are 
unrivalled, and they look at the same time thoroughly 
decorative in design. The brassy yellow of some of the 
hair they ought to be bullied for, though ! 

" People used to ask me when you meant to favour 
us with a visit to Manchester ; of late, however, they have 
left off. Sir Coutts and his wonderful conclusion, that 
the four remaining rooms ought to be dedicated to the 
four English Great Poets (this would include Swinburne) 
shows that new ideas have already superseded the ones 
we tried to inculcate. I care not enough and more is 
for me what I am about." 



On July 31st Shields and his wife left Edinburgh for 
Manchester. In a hurried note Rossetti says : 

" I write no longer to Edinburgh, as I suppose it is 
probably too late to do so. Shall be very glad if you 
can pay me a visit on Monday at usual time and let me 
hear all about your doings. I am glad you liked Noel 
Paton. I have pretty near finished the Sycamore picture 



262 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the head at last I think to my satisfaction a honey- 
suckle in hand. 

" I expect the frame in just a week, when of course I 
shall add work and tone. ... I heard an extremely good 
account of Brown's progress from young Caine of Liver- 
pool, who is going to notice it in the Liverpool press." 



Young Caine refers of course to Mr. Hall Caine, who 
was soon to be an inmate of Rossetti's house. 

A week spent at Manchester in seeing various old 
friends, and visiting Chester to see the Eaton glass. 

"September 3rd. Took Cissy to Rossetti's to study 
head for Magdalen from her and got it much better. 

"September 14th. Went early to Rossetti's, painted at 
hair of Magdalen and sky. Had to rub rosy sky out 
wouldn't do. Stayed all night as rain severe. 

" September 1 5th. Up at 8. Got to work at sky, tried 
most part of day; rubbed it out twice, but left it success- 
ful at last. Rossetti talked much of his early life. Home 
11.30 P.M. 

" September 22nd. All day at Rossetti's. Slept there. 
Still painting sky." 

Rossetti sent numerous undated notes about this time, 
as: 

" I don't know if you mean to paint here to-morrow, 
but should be glad if you would, as I think of getting on 
with that battlement work, and find it a bore when alone. 
When you come, could you bring any photograph or 
sketch of ivy growing on a wall, I want it for the distant 
rampart of La Pia, if you happen to have such. I much 
wanted to talk to you the other evening as to that back- 
ground, but could not tackle it with Scott there. Thus I 
trust not to miss seeing you to-morrow." 

" October 22nd. To Rossetti's to paint the Lazarus 
began it in blue." 




LAZARUS (1880) 



PORTRAITS OF CHATTERTON 263 

This picture was painted almost entirely in Rossetti's 
studio, and according to his methods, the flesh laid in 
with ultramarine on a warm reddish-brown ground. It 
was purchased by Mrs. Russell-Gurney, and was eventu- 
ally placed in the Chapel of the Ascension. It now hangs 
in the Ante Chapel. 

Rossetti and Shields were both interested at this time 
in some doubtfully authenticated portraits of Chatterton 
which had been brought to their notice. Rossetti wrote : 

" The Salford portrait looks evidently older than the 
other, which is a life-sized oil head belonging to Sir Henry 
Taylor, and seeming really about twelve or thirteen. It 
has been engraved. I cannot see my way to believe in 
either, though it is curious that both do seem markedly 
to represent the same person, as does a third rough 
engraving in different pose of head which I have seen. 
My conceivable theory about the Chatterton portraits is 
this. He did know a miniature painter named Alcock 
at Bristol, and has written a laudatory poem on him. 
The striking resemblance between the two portraits and 
the rough proof I named, suggests conjecture. Had 
Alcock painted Chatterton in his lifetime it would assur- 
edly be on record with so many more facts we know, his 
reputation having been rapid after his death. But it is 
possible that Alcock may have been asked to make some 
posthumous reminiscence of Chatterton from which these 
portraits derive. But where then is the reminiscent por- 
trait, which would probably be a miniature ? Of course 
the Salford portrait is a good deal older than twelve. I 
should be glad if you can bring sketch of fig-tree when 
you come to-morrow, also of your aid in getting down a 
branch to paint from. I have been three nights alone, 
and shall be glad to see you." 

The year 1880 closed without further incident, the 
immense thought and care bestowed on the designs for 
the Duke of Westminster's windows made the remunera- 
tion very inadequate, and some increase of pay was 



264 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

eventually agreed upon, so that it might be possible for 
the artist to continue the work with comparative peace 
of mind with regard to his worldly affairs. 

"January 7th. Rose late. Gabriel Romano sat for 
St. John. To glassworks to take cartoons. To Rossetti's. 
A serious talk with him. Lord give me faith and courage 
for more. 

"January llth. Struggling all day with the drapery 
of St. John on the lay figure. To Rossetti's. He very 
depressed. Showed me background of his Beatrice put 
in." 

Rossetti now began working again at his long aban- 
doned picture of " Found." He wrote : " I have really 
resolved to take up that Calf picture and want to consult 
with you ; my sincere thanks to Mrs. Shields for her kind 
offer about the smock frock." 

The weather in this month was very severe. Rossetti 
writes a little later : 

" To-night is fearful indeed. I merely write to say 
that if possible on Friday you might do me an essential 
service by helping to set the lay figure with the leggings 
you lent me a matter at which I am always helpless. 
This new fall of snow looks like a menace of a most 
serious kind. I feel that absolute solitude is one likely 
result to myself." 

The diary records : 

" January 26th. St. John finished in seventeen days 
of bitter cold and suffering from chilblains. To Rossetti, 
put gaiters on lay figure for him. 

"February 1st. To Oxford with Butler to see New 
College glass and Jones window. Back at 6. With Cissy 
to see Christina Rossetti. 

" February 2nd. To see The Colonel for D. G. R." 

This was a terrible sacrifice to friendship, for Shields 



SHIELDS AT THE THEATRE 265 

loathed the theatre, and nothing but his devotion to 
Rossetti would have induced him to witness an absurd 
farce which must have made him feel that at any rate he 
ought to shudder at what he would have considered its 
depraved frivolity. Rossetti, possessed with the idea that 
his enemies were caricaturing him on the stage, would 
trust no one but Shields to give him a true account of 
the performance. Oddly enough the diary records no ill 
effects from witnessing The Colonel, though as a rule 
such an entertainment as the German Reeds or the Moore 
and Burgess Minstrels is held accountable for inevitable 
illness on the following day. Perhaps the relief at being 
able to assure Rossetti that he was not the subject of the 
play accounts for the untroubled record following. 

" February 3rd. Evans helped me with lead lines of 
east window ; designed olive leaf background for St. Peter. 
To Rossetti; stayed all night after setting lay woman 
figure for ' Found.' 

" February IQth. Painted apple blossom for gift to 
Cissy. Finished all matter belonging to the four sub- 
jects of East windows. To Rossetti's with Cissy about 
dress." 

One of Rossetti's notes says : 

" I may probably be sending for the mantle to-morrow 
evening. I want your views on that drawing, which I think 
is doctored now. You said Mrs. Shields was kind enough 
to express a wish to hear the ' White Ship.' Would she 

five me the pleasure of dining here with you, after which 
would produce the ballad ? My gratitude to her has 
been much aroused in painting the smock frock, the 
sleeve of which I think I have done all right by her 
help." 

" February 15th. To Rossetti's with Cissy to alter 
mantilla for him. Stayed all night." 



266 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

A day or two later Rossetti wrote in high spirits : 

" Leyland was here to-day, and seems likely to buy the 
' Blastea Damdozel ! ' I want your views as to the present 
state of the big picture. I am sorry to say that William 
is laid up with sore throat. Two sonnets a day and inex- 
orable politics must be the result. I hope to see you on 
Tuesday Friday I have proposed to Ned Jones." 

March and April record much the same round of work 
at the windows, varied with long days and evenings with 
Rossetti and afternoons at the Museum for study. Days 
of work selected here and there record : 

" April 2oth. To Zoo for goat ; got a dead kid there, 
and erased the lamb from Abel and put it in, which gave 
much hard trouble." 

" July 2Qth. To glassworks to correct John the 
Baptist light. Tried coloured arrangement for Martyrs. 
Mrs. Evans Bell sat for head of Stephen for me, 4 to 6. 
Dined at Brown's. Watts there. Saw Brown's designs 
for Flemish weavers and Crabtree." 

" August 8th. Angel with crown and cross. To British 
Museum for Martyr research. To Rossetti's ; Caine estab- 
lished there." 

A card from Madox Brown, dated Fitzroy Square, 
August 9th, says : 

" I believe I have got rid of this place, and shall 
accept your kind offer of storage room in your house. 
Will it be all right if I send things to-morrow and day 
after ? In most frightful confusion and muddle ; we have 
got a little house in Manchester." 

" August IQth. Brown's things came. To see Brown 
at Fitzroy Square ; all dismantled a sad sight. 

" August 15th. To Hampton Court by river with wife 
on our marriage day. Four hours' voyage; very cold. 




THE GUARDIAN ANGEL 



ARMY OF MARTYRS' DESIGN 267 

Back by rail. To Real Niggers at Her Majesty's Theatre. 
Vile vulgarity and noise ; bestial show." 

As a usual consequence the next day's diary records : 

" 16th. Very ill in head. Did a little at Lazarus (oil). 
Turkish bath in evening. 

"11th. Weak but struggling. Martyrs' design. Major 
Evans Bell called. To Rossetti's ; an evening wasted in 
Joe Miller'isms, of which he is too fond." 

The rest of the month is spent over the two designs of 
Martyrs, which necessitated much research at the British 
Museum, and about which lie consulted Christina Rossetti, 
who wrote the letter as usual undated : 

" I am proud to offer such points as occur to me in 
answer to your invitation ; however useless, they show 
my sympathy in your noble work. 

"As to the 'noble Army of Martyrs,' I see you admit 
many (so to say) from the east and from the west ; may 
we all meet in the heavenly Church ; but /, of course, 
should draw my illustrations for the present from the 
visible Church on earth. I only make this remark to clear 
my conscience, not to seem impertinent, and even less to 
seem indifferent to examples to which one's heart (if one 
has a heart) responds. I shall feel you treat me as a 
friend if you spare yourself any trouble in answering. 
Thank you for the Museum book title." 

To this letter Miss Rossetti appends a long extract 
from Personal Names in the Bible, by the Rev. W. F. 
Wilkinson. 

In this month are recorded frequent visits to Cheyne 
Walk, for Rossetti's health was causing much anxiety, 
and his condition altogether was one which Shields, ner- 
vous and sensitive as ever, could not contemplate without 
grief and foreboding. 

" September 16th. Finished ' Female Martyrs.' To 
Rossetti, just about to leave for the Lakes. 



268 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

"September 17th. To see Waterhouse. Gilchrist 
brought Mr. H. Scudder of Boston to see cartoons." 

Mr. Horace Scudder was so impressed with the car- 
toons that he journeyed at once to Chester to see Eaton 
HaU Chapel. 

The result was a very thoughtful and appreciative 
article entitled " An English Interpreter," which appeared 
in the Atlantic Monthly for October 1882. 

Mr. Scudder says, " It is in the interpretative function 
of art that Mr. Shields has shown his great power ; and 
the interpretation is not of a historical tradition nor of an 
individual fancy, but of a Catholic and Comprehensive 
conception of spiritual life." 

And this is true enough, if by spiritual life is under- 
stood spiritual life as represented by the literal interpre- 
tation of the Bible, enriched with all the symbolism and 
allegory that one whose whole life was devoted to devoutly 
" searching the Scriptures " could discover or invent. 

Rossetti, with Mr. Hall Caine at Keswick, wrote in 
September 1881 : 



FISHER PLACE, FISHER GHYLL, VALE OF ST. JOHN, 
NEAR KESWICK. 

MY DEAR SHIELDS, I think, on the whole, I had better 
send you on the enclosed, true as it is that such hopes are 
apt to become disillusions. But Sir Noel Paton is at any 
rate a man who will not forget one word that he has 
spoken, if only he have the power to make that word 
efficacious. 

That I am not absolutely limbless was proved yester- 
day by my ascending the Great Hough, which is a steep 
wooded height of 1200 feet, and this without particular 
fatigue. Nevertheless I am still aware that my limbs are 
out of order, and must hope to improve further. To-day 
I set up an easel and shall drudge a little at an easy 
replica for Valpy. I think I must muster energy to write 
a letter to Sir N. P. Is there anything you would like 



AZAZEL 269 

said besides what I should say naturally ? Caine sends 
kindest regards. Your affec. D. G. ROSSETTI. 

A little later he writes from the same place : 

" I am making some reduction in the drug, but cannot 
sajr that I am feeling very well at present. May I put you to 
a little trouble at your leisure ? If you can make time to 
run down to Cheyne Walk, please open the top right-hand 
drawer of the cabinet near the back door of the studio and 
get out a slight sketch of binding. It is a piece of foliage, 
and has ' Dante and his Circle ' inserted on it. Would 
you send it to me and pardon trouble ? I note what you 
say as to Paton. I shall not now be writing to him until 
I can send him my book, which I hear is more or less 
out." 

Shields was now finding the drudgery of overlooking 
the glass work very wearying. 

" Oct. 29th. All day numbering glass and arranging 
patterns and diapers on the tracing nine days of this 
hideous slavery. Spent evening with Christina Rossetti." 

Christina Rossetti wrote : 

" Thank you for excusing and remedying my momen- 
tary lapse of memory, and for writing words so kind that 
I can only hope to deserve them some day no, not only 
' hope,' I can try. I have thought of your fine scape-goat 
since I saw it, indeed I have thought of a number of 
your works to the glory of God, but that one is the one 
specially in my mind at this moment. I wish I understood 
tne meaning of the ' Azazel ' ; it appears, of course, to con- 
tain the most sacred word ' El/ and I should be so glad to 
ascertain the signification of the whole. I have lately 
been struck by an idea (but am not aware of any authority 
whatsoever for it it may be a mere fantastic error) 
whether the two goats of the great Day of Atonement 
taken together may not stand as one type of our Blessed 
Redeemer the slain goat, His Sacred Body slain for our 
sins; the scape-goat, His Soul sent all alone into the 



270 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

desolate desert world of the departed, and bearing our 
sins, as in Isaiah liii. 10. Not that the unseen world of 
the elect really was at any moment of man's history a 
desolate desert ; yet till our Lord entered it, it was an 
unknown land fearful to flesh and blood ; fearful even to 
saints, if we may judge by some Old Testament utterances, 
as of Job or in the rsalms. I trust you will not dislike 
my saying all this to you, for with you I have the happi- 
ness of feeling that you accept the Bible as the Word of 
God, to be venerated and made much of." 

In connection with the question of the Scapegoat it is 
interesting to note that Holman Hunt in one of his letters 
says that he has long come to the conclusion that two 
Messiahs were promised, one to suffer death and to be the 
Shiloh to the Gentiles, the other to bring about the 
restoration of the Jews. In painting his own picture of 
the Scapegoat he felt that he ought to represent the beast 
as suffering persecution or contempt, to the point of death, 
but that he must not make it certain that the creature 
died. 

A little later Miss Rossetti writes again, saying : 

" It is a comfort that nothing immediately depended on 
my remarks about Azazel. Mr. Cayley (who asks to be 
remembered to you) has come to the rescue, and has gone 
far to rout my Hebrew!" 

Then follows a disquisition by Mr. Cayley on " el " and 
" azel," and the interpretation of Azazel in the valuable 
lexicon of Ftirst. However, Miss Rossetti continues : 

" Ftirst as a philologist is reckoned too deep if anything 
in tracing Hebrew roots to their first fibres, so I still feel 
at liberty to pursue my own train of thought, though I see 
it is by no means to be built up so easily as my rash 
ignorance supposed. I hope Mrs. Shields is a perfect 
spring blossom of bloom for you this autumn, pray offer 
her my love." 



ROSSETTI'S ILLNESS 271 

Rossetti returned, evidently in worse health than when 
he left. This note shows a much feebler writing : 

" I don't exactly gather whether you propose to kindly 
come to-morrow or Saturday, but either evening will be 
welcome, the only 'emanation' from outer space which 
has greeted me since your last visit has been the calm 
presence of William on his faithful Monday. I must say 
I go daily from bad to worse, I am quite exhausted now, 
and really don't know how it may end. I have been 
seeing Marshall." 

Again on November 22nd he writes : 

" William has told you that I shall be alone to-morrow. 
Let me implore you to come. I am still very ill." 

"November 26th. Studying Bible for Chancel win- 
dows. To town on Rossetti's business to get him a nurse. 
To Marshall's, and to Rossetti's, he in a desperate state." 

The diary continues its record of work and anxiety. 

Two or three days are spent in designing a cover for 
Hall Caine's Sonnets of Three Centuries. 

" December 12th. Waterhouse sent most kind answer 
about the Duke. Young William Sharp called. To Royal 
Academy with Gilchrist to see the Prize work of students. 
Shameful awards against merit. To Rossetti, in bed, 
declares his left side paralysed since Sunday." 

The anxiety as to Rossetti's fast failing health in- 
creased, and many visits to him are mentioned in the 
diary, with sad accounts of his mental and physical de- 
pression. Christina Rossetti wrote on December 16th : 

"Your letter comes like balm. My dearest Mother 
thanks you with a warm heart, and so do I, for the hope 
you help us to keep up. I need not dwell on our grief 
and anxiety on poor Gabriel's account : yet with you I do 
hope that under the absolute authority of a medical man 
he may yet be weaned from that fatal chloral, and that 



272 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

even now much which has been lost may be retrieved. 
You and Mr. Watts, and every unwearied friend who is 
kind to him now, earn our deepest gratitude." 

For a week Rossetti's health improved slightly, and he 
tried to work again. A day or two before Christmas he 
wrote a shaky little note: 

" Would you let me know how you are situated as to 
next Friday and Saturday, which would suit you best ? 
Things seem getting brighter, and I hope painting might 
be possible. With Merry Xmas to yourself and wife." 

" December 2Sth. To glassworks to meet dear Madox 
Brown and show him the Martyr windows. Then to 
binders about Caine's book, which lost all the day." 

The diary for 1882 begins with a retrospect of the two 
hundred and eight days spent on the Duke's work, and a 
calculation that by the end of June the twelve designs 
for the chancel ought to be finished. 

Rossetti still made great demands upon Shields' time 
and strength, also indeed upon his patience, which must 
have been often sorely tried. The book referred to in the 
next note was Clarissa, which Rossetti had persuaded 
Shields to read aloud to him. 

DEAR OLD SHIELDS, I mentioned to Watts about your 
drawing here, and he has taken it upstairs to his own room 
where it is quite safe, so I think it might be better not to 
write him about it. 

I felt very much your goodness about the book, as I 
know it was really an effort to your friendship, and it has 
proved a relief to me which I owe to you. Hoping to see 
you to-morrow. The New Year does not find me merry. 
Your affectionate D. G. R. 

The diary continues : 

"January 3rd. To Academy, Old Masters. Dunn 



ROSSETTI DYING 273 

called. To Rossetti, he out of sick bed now, but still 
complains of arm. To British Museum, early Italian 
Prints." 

Early in February Rossetti went to Birchington with 
Mr. Hall Caine. Three days after their arrival Mr. Caine 
sent a hurried card to Shields : 

" Rossetti threatens to return at once unless someone 
comes out to see us. Such is the condition of things. 
When can you come ? He says you promised to come 
do try to do so, or something of the kind." 

Shields however remained at his work until on April 
8th he received another letter from Mr. Hall Caine, urging 
him to come at once as Rossetti has become very sud- 
denly worse, and he fears he is sinking rapidly. By a later 
post Mr. William Rossetti wrote : 

WESTCLIPF BUNGALOW, 
BIRCHINGTON-ON-SEA, 8th April. 

DEAR FRIEND, A few sad words in haste. On Mon- 
day I told you Gabriel was dying, but did not know how 
very close I spoke to the very fact. He is now dying I 
don't particularly expect him to survive to-day. He is 
calm, patient, conscious, rational but somewhat lethargic 
through weakness suffering we may infer no acute pain, 
and not any very excessive inconvenience. The Doctor 
says that most probably he will pass off unconscious. 
My Mother and sister, Watts and Caine, and myself are 
here. Leyland looked in yesterday and is expected 
to-day. 

Not many minutes ago say at noon Gabriel, hearing 
I was going to write to you, asked with his half extinct 
voice that I would tell you that he knows he has neglected 
you of late, but it was not through any feeling 01 indif- 
ference. Don't let anything I say beguile you into coming 
down here : it would be of no use. 

Marshall is expected to-day, towards 3.30. He would 
have come down with me yesterday, but great incon- 

s 



274 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

venience has beset us from Good Friday's trains being like 
Sunday's, and we shall not be clear of tnis sort of interrup- 
tion until Monday next is past. I wrote to Marshall at 
length on Tuesday, mentioning about Clarke or some other 
physician, and asking if he would appoint a day for me 
to call. 

He replied on Thursday by a verbal message through 
Watts, merely to the effect that he must hi reason accom- 
pany any such physician ; also that he did not agree in 
the opinion that the malady is softening of the brain 
perhaps not any brain disease. Three or four hours after 
Marshall's message I received a telegram from Christina 
showing that I must lose no time in coming down. I 
quite tnink from what I see here that no skilfullest 
physician would have been of the least practical avail: 
a fatal form of kidney disease now exists besides much 
other and total breaking up. Love and farewell to my 
illustrious brother and your affectionate friend is all I can 
say. Yours, W. M. ROSSETTI. 

Shields, however, had already started for Birchington, 
arriving on the evening of the 8th. 

In his diary he wrote : 

" April $th. Change for the better. Hope. At a 
quarter to ten the loud clang of Fate and in five 
minutes the great soul was gone ! God forgive him, 
and me! 

" April 10th. Spent day at William's request in draw- 
ing the poor dead face, a melancholy tearful task." 

On the same day he wrote to his wife : 

" MY OWN BELOVED ONE, Our hopes of recovery are 
over Oh, so suddenly last night at ten o'clock the 
summons came ! In two minutes all of us knew that his 
spirit was passed. It was an awful scene. 

" So is gone the man whom I loved most, and who 
loved me and I am more and more alone with you, my 
best beloved. May God join our hearts more closely, so 
that when the hour comes which shall divide us here, 



DEATH OF ROSSETTI 275 

we, having both the same hope in Jesus Christ, may part, 
in sorrow indeed but sorrow that we know shall be turned 
into joy when He shall call us from the dust again, to love 
each other forever without a fault on either side. I will 
tell you all when we meet which I expect at the latest, 
by God's mercy, may be to-morrow." 

Madox Brown wrote a touching letter from Manchester, 
on hearing of Rossetti's death : 

" I don't know how you feel this sad event ; to me it is 
the greatest blow I have received since the loss of our dear 
Nolly. I cannot at all get over the idea that I am never 
to speak to him again. And yet when he was alive it 
seemed as though nothing I could hear as to his health 
could surprise me, and still it was not apparently his 
visible ailments which proved fatal. How could one 
imagine such a breakdown ? when I saw him in bed, eat- 
ing sandwiches and asking for cake and grapes not three 
hours after his dinner, I thought his ailments imaginary, 
and so they might have been then, so little did they 
shadow this last disease. A great man is gone ! And the 
effects of it on art in this country none can tell, but one 
may fear unsubstantiality and affectation on the one 
hand, and ' Herkomerism ' on the other. I fear it will go 
hard with the British School when a few more of us are 
gone. You, Jones, Poynter, and Leighton are tolerably 
young yet ; Hunt, Millais, Watts, myself, and Paton are in 
the sear and yellow or wrinkling stage decidedly and 
what is to follow ? I can't foresee. I hear you are at 
Birchingtori or were on Saturday. I shall address this 
to you there. You have seen so much of poor dear 
Gabriel of late ; you must be terribly cut up. To me 
it seems like a dream ; I cannot make out how things 
are to go on ; in so many directions things must be 
changed." 

Shields records in his diary : " Made two copies (in 
misery) of the drawing of Rossetti's face for Christina and 

Watts." 



276 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

He went back to Birchington for the funeral : " Awake 
all night there," he says, and returning to town went to 
see Burne-Jones, " to weep with him." 

Sir Noel Paton wrote : 

"I send you a hurried line all I possibly can just 
now to thank you most sincerely for your most kind 
and touching letter. When Rossetti's death has been 
such a keen sorrow to me, whose actual intercourse with 
that kingly soul was so much slighter than yours I can 
but too well understand all that you feel, and from my 
heart I offer you that sympathy which I myself crave, 
and which I know you extend to me. . . . You did 
inform me that the Duke of Westminster had done what 
was right by you in the matter of the windows, at which I 

Seatly rejoiced. I had intended being in London in 
ay ; but I don't know that I have the heart to come 
now. If I do, however, I shall not fail to see you ; and 
you will tell me all you can of our dead King." 

Immeasurable was the gulf of disagreement on all 
spiritual matters between Shields and Rossetti ; agonising 
to the younger man's sensitive, ascetic nature were many 
episodes in their long intimacy, and terrible were his 
misgivings when the end had come, lest he had neglected 
any possible opportunity of essaying the obviously im- 
possible task of converting Rossetti to his own religious 
views. 

But he never failed to express his scorn for those who 
attempted to belittle Rossetti's greatness. As a heaven- 
born genius and as a generous-souled friend, Rossetti 
always had a large place in his loyal heart, and no one 
more than Shields would have endorsed the words written 
by Burne-Jones on his early friendship with Rossetti : 

"His talk and his look and his kindness, what words 
can say them ? But bit by bit little forgotten touches will 



SHIELDS AND ROSSETTI 277 

come back, I daresay, and some sort of image of him be 
made out and if it is a perfect image and all overlaid 
with gold, it will be truer really than one that should 
make him halt or begrimed or sully him in the least." 

Among Shields' possessions was a cast of a hand such 
a small fine hand that it might be taken for that of a 
woman, but that upon it are pencilled the words : " D. G. 
Rossetti's cunning right hand, that clasped mine in 
friendship once." 

It has been said that Rossetti was born out of due 
time and place Mediaeval Italy should have been the 
setting for that strange jewel. And certainly Shields 
would have been more suitably environed by a peaceful 
hermit's cell, where, like Fra Angelico, he could have 
spent his days in painting to the glory of God unless, 
indeed, rumours of the wicked outside world had moved 
him to head a crusade, or to offer himself up, like 
Savonarola, to a losing battle against the Mammon of 
Unrighteousness. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Lady Mount-Temple and Mrs. Russell-Gurney A visit to Babbacombe 
G. F. Watts The Rossetti memorial windows The vicar's objec- 
tions With Lord and Lady Mount-Temple at Broadlands Mosaics 
at Eaton Hall Windows at Cheltenham College M'Lachlan's law- 
suit Sir Noel Paton's letters Sir John Gilbert St. Luke's, Camber- 
well Memorial to Gordon Highlanders Mosaic workers in Paris. 

EARLY in May 1882, Lady Mount-Temple brought Mrs. 
Russell-Gurney to Shields' studio a visit which led to 
then undreamed of consequences, for the quiet lady 
in the black dress was to become his nearest friend, and 
her beautiful vision of a chapel of rest, to be built to the 
memory of her husband, was to give the artist the 
great opportunity of his life. 

A week or two later Shields paid a fortnight's visit to 
Lord and Lady Mount-Temple at Babbacombe, the first 
of many visits to these " angelic hosts." At the end 
of June he went to Manchester for a week, staying with 
Dr. M'Laren, and returned home to attend the sale of 
Rossetti's effects at Cheyne Walk. The diary records : 

" July 6th. To Rossetti's sale. To see Holman Hunt, 
he still patching at his big picture. He expects Ruskin 
to-morrow to see it. 

"July 7th. Drawing D. G. R.'s head for Leyland. 
Tracing Miss S 's head for dear Hunt." 

Miss S was a very beautiful model frequently 

employed by Shields and subsequently by Holman Hunt. 
The lovely water-colour head of the girl with jasmine in 
her hair, bequeathed to the writer, and here reproduced, 
was painted from her. 

278 




THE LADY WITH THE JASMINE 
Portrait Study, 1888 



DIARY RECORDS 279 

" July Wth. To Cheyne Walk the things all re- 
moved. All bare. The last look. To Christina Rossetti in 
evening, she showed me D. G. R.'s golden hair, Hancock's 
medallion at 13, his own drawing of the same time, and 
one of him as a child of 4 

"July 28th. To Lady Mount-Temple's to lunch, and 
to Academy with Dunn. Leighton's decorations for St. 
Paul's are dreadful." 

The beautiful design of " Love " was made in the 
autumn of this year, much time being spent in the 
East End searching for a suitable black baby as model 
the tiny chinaman being even more difficult to secure. 

"December 3Qth. Put lettering in Paradise. Wrote 
Rossetti notes for F. G. Stephens. To Rossetti Exhibition 
a disgrace to the Academy." 

In January 1883 William Rossetti lost a little son 
the diary refers to the sad event. 

"January 25th. To Academy and Burlington Club 
all day with Theodore Watts. To Christina Rossetti and 
to William Rossetti. Drew dead little Michael for his 
Mother until midnight." 

Madox Brown was very ill early in the year, but on 
February 3rd he writes from Manchester : 

"I will write you a line because I begin to be able 
to write a little, and no one is more deserving of it than 
you. I have been up for an hour to-day. This has been 
a sad affair of the Rossettis' loss. Lucy writes that you 
sat up late one night making a beautiful drawing of her 
poor little boy a sad task, I know, for you, and very 
kind of you." 

Writing to G. F. Watts for some advice, Shields re- 
ceived this kindly reply which in time was followed by 
much helpful intercourse : 



r 



280 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

LITTLE HOLLAND HOUSE, 
May 28<A, 1883. 

MY DEAR SIR, If one lives long in the world, I think 
the conclusion arrived at will be that the things best worth 
having are, to be able to add something to humanity 
real possessions, either by achievement or example, and 
to give aid. 

Sympathy may seem to be a very cheap kind of aid, 
but I know very well that at times, if depressed, it is not 
one whose value is least. Such workers as yourself may 
be always sure of it from me, with such help, also, as my 
experience may enable me to afford. 

It will give me very great pleasure indeed to see you 
any day this week, except Saturday between 2 and 3. 
This will hold good for next week, but I might chance 
to be out. Yours sincerely, G. F. WATTS. 

In July came the question of a memorial window, and 
Christina Rossetti wrote from Birchington : 

" I am sure you will be in sympathy with us in this 
spot of all spots. And one train of thought and feeling 
will arise in us all alike. 

" Now I am going to write frankly expressing a great 
wish of my Mother's, if such a wish can be made to 
harmonise with your good will and possibilities. 

" Concerning our dear Gabriel's grave three things are 
now in question: a stone on the grave itself, and two 
windows which more or less look upon the grave. The 
stone William in the main appropriates. One window 
is supposed to be filled in by personal friends and admirers. 
Indeed both windows might be so dealt with, only that 
here my Mother steps in with her personal preference. 
She wishes if it may be to secure this window (choosing 
the one nearest the grave) as exclusively her own gift, 
and she devotes 100 to the purpose. Please bear in 
mind that we have no distinct idea of the costliness of such 
work and then tolerate my enquiring for her whether 
that sum would give her a right to request you to under- 
take this window as her commission ? Even your 



THE ROSSETTI WINDOW 281 

personal love of Gabriel weighs less with, her in this 
quest than your personal love of Christ. ... As the 
window belongs to that part of the Church which forms 
the Baptistery, Mr. Alcock inclines to a subject in some 
way appropriate to Holy Baptism, and the lower section of 
the window which consists of two lights the lower 
section of each light has to be made slightly ornamental 
in some simple way independent of the figure subjects, 
as these panes of glass are made movable for the purpose. 
Every message from my Mother to you goes with her 
affectionate remembrances and her hopes (in which 
I unite) that you and Mrs. Shields enjoy at least 
tolerable health at present. Pray remember us both to 
your wife. We have been here a week to-day and are 
hoping to remain for 6 or 7 weeks longer, partly because 
we like to stay here, and partly because our home-house 
is in the hands of painters, paperers, &c. 

" Please accept a poor photograph of the old familiar 
bungalow ; poor as it is, it reminds one of the original." 

Needless to say, Shields at once threw himself heart 
and soul into this idea, and proceeded to Birchington to 
discuss the question and examine the position for the 
proposed window. Much correspondence passed between 
Miss Rossetti and himself, and he prepared two designs, 
one of his own, the subject being the healing of the blind 
man, the other adapted from Rossetti's beautiful design of 
Mary Magdalene. These had to be submitted to the 
Birchington vicar for approval, and the dismay of Shields 
can be better imagined than described when he received 
a letter from the vicar objecting to the second design, 
saying, "I do not think this picture is likely to inspire 
devotional thoughts and feelings, and fear that in some 
cases it might rather do the reverse." 

What is presumably a rough copy of Shields' reply 
says : 

" My friend Rossetti himself would have shrunk with 
shuddering at any supposition that the design could 



282 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

have an impure effect. Mrs. and Miss Rossetti could 
not have anticipated, even in dreams, such an objection 
arising, for they have been accustomed to regard the 
design as directly opponent to evil, and so it is, and has 
been esteemed by many pious men and women whom 
I have known enthusiastic in admiration of its conception 
That the woman passing by with a crowd of worldlings 
like herself to a revel was caught by an eye at the 
window of the Pharisee's house an eye at once reproach- 
ful and attractive, that with a glance broke her heart, 
and drew her, spite of the interposed barrier of lover and 
friend, so that she tore away her ornaments to fall 
stripped of her pride at the Saviour's feet, changed and 
renewed. Surely in an age of vanity like this when 
another Isaiah might well arise, stirred by the Holy 
Spirit to declaim against the daughters of Christian 
England ' walking and mincing as they go ' in their 
hign-heeled shoes, and decked with a larger catalogue 
of fripperies than the prophet enumerates, their hair 
curled with crimping pins (in defiance of Apostolic 
injunction), the very trade mark of levity on their faces, 
such an earnest and startling revelation of the 7th of Luke 
may well awake in some gazers the thought of whether 
the guise in which they present themselves for worship in 
the place of your ministry is one on which the Lora is 
likely to look graciously and speak forgiveness to their 
souls. 

" Was not the denuding of the ornaments, so aptly 
insisted on by Rossetti, the very attitude required by God 
from His people after their spiritual fornication of the 
Golden Calf, as the express condition on which alone God 
would not come up in their midst in a moment, and con- 
sume them ? I perceive that the freedom of the design 
from the dead, unhelpful conventionality common to 
religious art has astonished you." 

If the vicar received this letter, its eloquence pro- 
duced no effect upon him, nor was he moved by another 
letter in which Shields, apparently not having yet dared 
to tell Mrs. Rossetti of the objection, prayed him to con- 
sider whether "for the sake of such a visionary fear you 



AT BROADLANDS 283 

should grieve the love and piety which has dictated this 
gift to your church, and which would provoke such a 
storm of indignation from Rossetti's many friends, and 
might become such a subject of public scandal that in 
dread of such a calamity I have kept silence to everyone 
concerning your communication." 

The vicar was still quite decided that the ladies of his 
congregation were not likely to be moved to cast aside 
their hair-curlers or their high-heeled shoes, but that the 
effect of Rossetti's beautiful design might be demoralising 
rather than elevating. So after much more correspond- 
ence on all sides, another design of Rossetti's, " Passover 
in the Holy Family," was chosen for the second light, and 
the window was fixed in position in the following year 
when Christina Rossetti, who with her aged mother had 
been at Birchington waiting to see it completed, wrote : 

" At last I enjoy the pleasure of telling you that we 
have seen the beautiful worth-waiting-for window, and that 
it excels my mother's hope. This she tells you as her own 
message I wish you also could have beheld it on this 
bright morning, inviting us all to piety and devotion. 
The homely little dog and puppies I much like, with 
their spiritual suggestion. To me, the two subjects go 
together quite well, both as to line of composition and 
degree of action : let us hope that at least the ignorant 
may see with my eyes rather than with yours." 

In September, Shields went to Broadlands to visit 
Lord and Lady Mount-Temple, and wrote to his wife : 

MY BELOVED ONE, I should be so happy here, if my 
own better part were not in Lodge Place. Everything 
falls short of its full joy because you have not your share 
of it, and I half quarrel with all the pleasures on this 
account. Never have I been in any place so entirely to 
my tastes it soothes me and delights me, more than I 
can tell you. This morning, after a very restless night, 



284 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

away from you, I rose at 7, and after prayers for you, my 
dearest, what a walk I had along the swift river's beautiful 
banks such great cedar trees, with their mighty boughs 
sweeping down to the very ground, and the swallows and 
the rooks overhead Ah me, I came across one dark 
broad-beaked fellow, dead, with his splendid rainbow- 
tinted feathers, that look black only Because they are 
generally so far away from us and even here I thought 
the sorrow of the earth is found, while far above his dead 
body there flew his living fellows, none taking any thought 
of the lost one who had been with them yesterday. . . . 
Then I was startled by the rush of wings and scattered 
water and a water-hen darted, with her feet touching the 
water and her wings spread above it, straight across to 
the opposite bank. Then a great heron with his broad 
wings flapping away a little further on, then a startled 
rabbit ran near my feet, and the wild doves cooed in the 
trees. All the river bottom is spread with weeds and 
long grasses, that quiver through the clear rushing water. 
At nearly half-past ten the bell rang for prayers, which 
Lord Mount-Temple led, Miss Juliet playing the har- 
monium. I must get the prayers they use, as they are 
the best I have seen for family worship. Then we sang 
the fine hymn which begins : " the bitter shame and 
sorrow, that a time could ever be "... 

The air here to-day was like cream, so soft and sweet, 
as I took an evening walk just now ; all the young bulls 
in the park were butting at each other with their horns 
for very playfulness. The organ has just begun with the 
governess playing it, or I would write to Jessie it dis- 
tracts my head -I must go out till it stops. Ever your 
own FREDERIC. 

A few days later Mrs. Shields joined him at Broad- 
lands, where they stayed for a fortnight. The rest of the 
year was devoted to the Eaton designs and the Rossetti 
window. On Christmas Day Madox Brown, still in Man- 
chester, wrote in anything but his usual cheerful vein : 

" You will be glad to know that the Decoration Com- 
mittee at the Town Hall have decided at length to advise 



MOSAIC 285 

that the remaining six panels in the large room should 
be given to me to fill. Not exactly at what I required 
for doing so, but at such price as would pay all round 
375 for each picture of the twelve. It is only five years 
more exile in this place, and after that it will not, I 
suppose, much matter what happens. Altogether the 
idea has made me melancholy, but I must endeavour to 
get some place in London to come to, for otherwise it 
would be more unendurable." 

An entry in the diary for 1884, on January 7th, 
records "To Merton Abbey to see William Morris. He 
delightful, showed me many things." 

This visit was made with a view to getting Morris's 
advice as to the designs still to be made for the south 
wall of the chapel at Eaton. They were to be carried 
out in mosaic to Shields a medium even more distasteful 
than stained glass. Much correspondence passed between 
Mr. Waterhouse the architect, the Duke of Westminster, 
and Shields, as to the relative merits of glass and marble 
mosaic. The architect wrote that Morris had recom- 
mended marble, Morris wrote that he didn't remember 
anything about marble, but was inclined to agree with 
the artist that glass mosaic is the only material worth 
using, except for pavements or very simple wall orna- 
ment. " I remember, however," he says in a letter to 
Shields, "thinking that the chapel was not the best 
possible place for mosaic, as the flat spaces were small 
and cut up, and mosaic seems to call for large spaces, and 
if possible curved ones, as in the great domical buildings 
where it was used in early days." 

Shields wrote in after years : 

" When I learned that marble mosaic was determined 
on, my soul sickened with recoil from a labour that I 
foresaw hateful in its finality, interpreted by dull Italian 
workmen, or even by the most intelligent that could 
piece the small squares. I went to inspect some examples 



286 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

lately placed in a London church, flat, tame, and feeble 
in their effect. I concluded that only a background of 
black could redeem my own designs from the like failure. 
I made two sketches on this plan. 'What, black back- 
ground,' said Waterhouse 'consider well before you 
regret it.'" 

But in the end the artist proved his point, and the 
mosaics at Eaton were pronounced as successful as the 
windows. Madox Brown wrote sympathetically about the 
mosaic in a letter dated February 20th, 1884 : 

" When you wrote you were in the throes of martial 
encounter with Ducal and other stupidities. Is that 
over, and can it ever pass away? Probably not; but I 
trust it has already passed from you to others, more 
leathery of nerves and of tougher SKin. I do not clearly 
understand, however, what the other kinds of mosaic (not 
marble) are. I suppose glass. Those who are to work 
in contact with you must be a great drawback to the 
expression of your work ; yet you nave, on the whole, got 
the stained-glass workers into such effectual order that I 
don't doubt your being able to overcome the denseness of 
the mosaic workers, that is, if they work in London." 

Some time was spent over designs for windows for 
Cheltenham College, undertaken at the request of a friend. 
The subjects were from Spenser's Faerie Queene. Unfor- 
tunately Miss Beale, the well-known head mistress of 
Cheltenham, seriously disagreed with the artist as to his 
treatment of one of the figures that of a little Cupid. 
Miss Beale thought that, as the figure was undraped, it 
could only be allowed to appear if festooned with roses ! 
But roses had formed no part of the design, and Shields 
was furious at the suggestion that the lovely little figure 
needed any such alteration. One is wickedly but irre- 
sistibly reminded of the school-girl's rhyme : 

" Miss Buss and Miss Beale, Cupid's darts never feel. 
How different from us, Miss Beale and Miss Buss ! " 



MANCHESTER EXHIBITION 287 

The result was that Shields would do no more of the 
windows, and the series was completed by another hand. 
A visit was made to Paris to study the technical processes 
of the mosaic workers, and in August Shields paid a short 
visit to Normandy, again accompanied by his old friend 
Mr. Rowley. Madox Brown wrote on September 12th : 

" How are you, and how is work progressing ? I wish I 
were well back in London, for I am pretty nigh sick of 
here. But I am making some progress with a small bit 
of ' Wycliffe,' and a very exciting and curious subject it 
is. For news while you were in Normandy we have been 
in Scotland and Arran after health ! but I do not find 
myself much the better for it now I am back again. But 
it was tolerably jolly while it lasted. Arran might be 
beautiful if it were not so Scotch, and yet I like the poor 
Scotch people so much, though I do not care for their 
scenery. The Autumn Exhibition is open here now, but 
not much more interesting than the R.A., though, being a 
local affair, it somehow is more interesting. I have not 
troubled them. I see by the catalogue you have, but I 
have not seen the work itself. The most curious thing to 
notice in this exhibition is how all the works are for sale 
some for large prices, like Herkomer's ; some for modest 
prices, as are Frith' s! But all, whether R.A.'s or others, 
for sale alack the day ! I do not think no one has any 
money, because I know of many people who launch forth 
more than ever ; but I think it is the fashion for buying 
pictures that is passing. It never was a genuine taste, 
and people are now getting ashamed of being sold by 
dealers, without having acquired the taste to buy fine 
things for themselves. Mr. - , M.P., appears very large 
if not lifelike (by an R.A., of course), and he has exactly 
the expression, or seems saying to himself : ' Really I must 
forswear lying and live cleanly ; this last lie of mine was 
too much, even for an M.P.' 

" This inveterate habit of mine (for it is such, I gain 
nothing by it) will be the ruin of me unless I give it up ; 
but it sticks, it sticks ! . . . And his complexion is as if he 
had been trying to wash it away in port wine. Dear 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Shields, I have nothing but this nonsense to write to you, 
but you return me some sense for it in that vigorous 
hand I know so well and see so little of." 

Three days later Shields went to Manchester and 
stayed for some days with Madox Brown. The Wycliffe 
picture was still in progress, and Shields sat for the head 
of Wycliffe himself quite a recognisable portrait, though 
somewhat broadened about the lower part of the face. 
The rest of the autumn was spent over designs for mosaic 
and several other designs for glass, for which there was no 
lack of commissions. A portrait of Miss Waterhouse is 
mentioned in the list of this year's work, also a water- 
colour of the " Good Shepherd " for Lord Mount-Temple, 
and some drawings of children for Mr. Rowley ; these, in 
addition to the Duke of Westminster's mosaics, the Ros- 
setti windows, the Cheltenham windows, and other designs, 
show a year of strenuous work. 

A bad fall, resulting in serious injury to the artist's 
finger, made him unable to do any work from December 
8th until the beginning of January 1885, and the injured 
hand troubled him for many months. On January 5th, 
1885, the diary records : 

" Able to begin to work a little in a rude way on 
Seddon's panels for sideboard. Went to Bougereau's ex- 
hibition with Brown, and to Holman Hunt's." 

In this year Shields suffered long ill-health and 
domestic trouble, and was much sustained by the steadfast 
friendship of Lord and Lady Mount-Temple and Mrs. 
Russell-Gurney. 

In June a visit was paid to Sark, a place which always 
had a great charm for Shields, and where, both on this 
and succeeding visits, he made many delightful sketches 
of rocks and sea, the entrance to one of the Gouliot caves 
being the subject of an oil painting entitled " The Sea's 
engulfing Maw." 



SIR NOEL PATON 289 

In October a long and kindly letter from Sir Noel 
Paton asked Shields for a little bit of his work, in colour 
or black and white, for his old friend Lady Jane Dundas, 
suggesting that, if he found any difficulty in selection, 
William Sharp, who was known to them both, might 
assist him. 

The diary is blank for some months of this year, but 
the following letter, dated Oct. 19th, from Sir Noel Paton, 
shows that Shields had been going through a time of 
trouble and anxiety : 

" I have just read need I say with what profound 
sympathy your letter of yesterday. God grant that ere 
long the terrible strains of soul, mind, and body from 
which you have been suffering as only one of your high- 
strung and ultra-sensitive nature can suffer, may be re- 
leased, and a more or less easeful time be given you for 
the prosecution and successful completion of your noble 
work at Eaton Hall work which, long after we have 
quitted this scene of probation, will remain a monument 
to your honour. There is no need for your hurrying about 
the drawing for Lady Jane Dundas : if it reaches Edin- 
burgh a fortnight hence it will be in very good time. In 
the meantime I hasten to relieve myself of the responsi- 
bility of the enclosed. I .will not fail to convey your 
message to Lady Jane. With sincere thanks for your 
generous and correct construction of my silence, and 
assurance that yows I shall never misconstrue." 

Another letter from Sir Noel Paton begs Shields not 
to send, as he proposed, a drawing which was unfinished 
and needed working on. He says : 

" I fully appreciate and sympathise with your wish to 
send a bit of your best, but pray let it be a bit of work 
already done. Keep every atom of your strength for the 
heavy and troublesome task in which you are now engaged. 
Pray pardon my thus speaking to you ' like a father.' '' 



290 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Again, in a letter from Edinburgh dated November 
15th, 1885, Sir Noel Paton writes : 

" I conclude that you have disregarded my wise 
paternal advice, and are pursuing your own headstrong 
courses, as men of genius will ! Some time ago Lady Jane 
Dundas (who is warmly disposed to further your interests 
to the best of her power) wrote to me enquiring whether 
I thought you would be disposed to undertake certain 
windows for a private chapel now in process of erection 
by her niece, Mrs. Bromley Davenport. But I have ven- 
tured to say that your hands are, and will be for some 
considerable time, fully occupied with the mosaics for 
Eaton Hall, and that I am sure you could not undertake 
them now. If, however, I have gone beyond my brief in 
making this statement, it is not too late to reopen the case. 
Further, I have this morning another communication 
from Lady Jane to the effect that, finding the Earl of 
Dysart wishes a music-room which he is now building 
decorated with high-class mural paintings, she strongly 
recommended that the commission should be offered to 
you. Also that Lord Dysart (who is busy with arrange- 
ments for his marriage) wishes your address, that he may 
take a convenient opportunity of speaking to you on the 
subject. I don't think it likelv that Lord Dysart will call 
until after his marriage. In the meantime kindly let me 
know how you feel about both these proposals." 

Shields was unable to undertake any other work, know- 
ing that Mrs. Russell-Gurney was eagerly awaiting his 
freedom from the toils of stained glass and mosaic that he 
might devote himself to her service. 

Early in 1886 came M'Lachlan's lawsuit about the 
Royal group, Shields, much to his distress, being subpoenaed 
as a witness on his behalf. Madox Brown wrote from 
Manchester on April 16th : " Thanks ever so much for 
your kind letter and still kinder bridges ; I shall always 
value them and certainly make as good use of them as I 
am able. The small low one is particularly jolly." 



SIR JOHN GILBERT 291 

Then follow some particulars with regard to a raffle 
which, with his usual generosity, he was getting up for 
the benefit of an artist's widow, the prize being his own 
picture of Platt Lane. 

Madox Brown is also keenly interested as ever in social 
reform, and says : 

" I was at a mass meeting of the unemployed yester- 
day at Pomona Gardens 6000 or 7000 poor, wretched- 
looking, ragged fellows. I had to speechify them, for did 
I tell you ? I and some others have started a ' labour 
bureau ' to register all who want employment, and invite 
those who want them to come to us. The workers have 
come in numbers, but not 5 per cent, of those numbers as 
employers. In fact, I believe the manufacturer looks 
upon a good broad margin of starving workmen as the 
necessary accompaniment of cheap labour I shall get a 
nice name, I expect." 

Shields took a ticket for the raffle and won the prize, 
Madox Brown being highly delighted at this result. 

It was in this year that Shields wrote an article on 
Rossetti's method of drawing in coloured chalks. A copy 
was sent to Sir John Gilbert, with a note describing the 
pleasure Rossetti used to take in Shields' large collection 
of prints and woodcuts from Gilbert's works. He wrote 
on October 10th : 

" It was thoughtful and kind to send me the ' Hobby 
Horse.' 

" That Rossetti could feel any interest in my Art rather 
surprises me ; but I am glad to find that he did. 

" I wish I had known more of him ; it was but seldom 
that we met. He was a member of the Garrick Club, 
where we more than once or twice dined together. It was 
greatly to my loss that we met so seldom. I visited him 
at his house in Chelsea once, uninvited, and was received 
with the greatest kindness. While waiting until he came 



in from his painting room, I looked all round the walls of 
what 1 took to be the library, because there were book- 
shelves well filled. And so careful was my survey and so 
pleased and interested was I in the picturesque treatment 
of the variety and beauty of its adornments that I made 
a mental drawing, and wnen I got home put all down in 
pencil sketch, which I still have by me. 

" Now I know that he was a dear friend of yours, 
would you like to have a copy of this sketch ? I will 
with pleasure do it for you when time permits. The 
original I should not like to part with, but you shall have 
a fac-simile." 

A month later Sir John Gilbert wrote again, sending 
the sketch here reproduced. It is remarkable as a feat 
of memory, and interesting also as showing the great 
artist's pleasure in seeing a room which in Victorian days, 
before the influence of Morris and his partners had pene- 
trated further than their immediate circle, must have 
been unique in the beauty of its furnishing. 

" I have much pleasure in sending you this slight 
sketch of the fireplace in a room endeared to you by many 
recollections, before which you may have enjoyed happy 
converse with a most valued friend. Better conversation 
than is to be had generally. Of such a sort, too, which is, 
I find, hard to get nowadays. 

"You will recognise some of the adornments of the 
mantel and above it. The owls, the little mirror, the 
candle branches, the little round worsted balls hanging 
over the shelf, the Dutch tiles and other things, the oefl 
ropes, &c. &c. 

" I am indeed glad to be able to send you such a 
memorial of an old friend." 

In December Madox Brown wrote in reply to Shields' 
Christmas greeting. Incidentally he says : 

" I have undertaken to execute some very large coloured 
figures for their Jubilee Exhibition here, and they must be 



VARIOUS COMMISSIONS 293 

ready by a certain day. I have got Knewstub, D. G. R.'s 
old pupil, to assist me. One of the characters is a 
sheep shearer. Do you think that in London anywhere 
there is to be got a cast of a shorn sheep ? I had one 
in my studio, shorn on purpose ; but he was a Xmas one, 
and so fat that taking his wool off made very little differ- 
ence to him or to me." 

In the spring of 1887 Shields had a pleasurable task 
in designing symbolic decorations for the church of St. 
Luke's, Camberwell, his friend the Rev. Hugh Chapman 
then being the vicar. Mr. Chapman has published an 
interesting little book describing Shields' work in his 
church, entitled Sermons in Symbols. 

Another commission, different to anything the artist 
had hitherto undertaken, was a design for a memorial to 
the Gordon Highlanders, to be executed in relief by Mr. 
M'Lean for a church in Edinburgh. 

In April Shields again visited Broadlands, and at the 
end of July made another visit to Paris. The diary 
records : 

" August 3rd. To Rue St. Luc ; mosaic work woeful 
in extreme. Did some myself, correcting the ignorant 
tracing. 

" August 8th. Burke having seen our work held all 
in vain till we had formed a scale of tints. This I tried 
to do with Zachariah, and came a cropper. Burke caved 
in ; the colours are not to be had that he gave me samples 
of. A wretched collapse ; I can fight this fool's war no 
longer." 

He returned to London more disgusted with mosaic 
work than ever. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Mrs. Rnssell-Gurney's dream Search for a site The disused mortuary 
chapel The Jubilee windows at St. Ann's, Manchester Window at 
Mereworth Church, Kent To Northern Italy At Pietra Santa 
Letters from Italy Mrs. Gurney's letters Designing the Chapel of 
the Ascension The Madox Brown testimonial Correspondence with 
G. F. Watts Address to art students" Knott Mill Fair " Holman 
Hunt's interesting experiences Death of Madoz Brown. 

AT the end of August 1887 is an interesting entry in 
Shields' diary : 

"To Mrs. Russell-Gurney, and with her to National 
Gallery. Her idea of a little Hall decorated." 

On September 2nd he wrote to Mrs. Russell-Gurney, 
whose dream of a decorated chapel was growing nearer to 
possible realisation : 

" All this is beautiful and felicitous beyond my thought 
for yours is the conception, and yours the swift steps 
taken to nurse it into well-being. I tremble with desire 
and fear towards the work I say fear, for it involves great 
issues, and may lead to a new departure in the alliance or 
service of Art to Piety. Symbols affect men's imagination 
and faith mightily still. The little spot should be pure 
so that anything that defileth if it entered should feel 
itself abhorred and reproved silently. I would wish it lit 
from the roof, shut out from all but heaven's vault 
closeted from the tumultuous world about it and this 
also to economise wall space, precious for decoration in 
so small a shrine. 

" send wisdom out of Thy Holy Place, that being 
present, she may labour with us. 

"You imply the dear Mount-Temple's approval. By 
Thursday next I trust that some embryo of a scheme may 

294 



MRS. RUSSELL GURNEY 295 

be mine to submit to you for there is no engagement 
that prevents me from immediate action. I have pur- 
posely kept myself free from the bonds of two commissions 
that were proffered me for glass decoration. It only 
seems dreamlike yet and sacred so that I cannot breathe 
a word of it to anyone." 

Mrs. Russell-Gurney was now full of suggestions and 
ideas which were eagerly welcomed and considered by the 
artist, whose delight at the prospect of such an opportunity 
knew no bounds. While their plans were maturing, 
Shields was finishing the last of his work for Eaton 
Chapel. In the autumn of this year he was much inter- 
ested in the Salvation Army, which both his wife and 
adopted daughter joined for a time. He had some friendly 
correspondence with Mrs. Booth, and she sat to him for 
her portrait. 

Subsequently Shields became much prejudiced against 
the methods of the Salvationists, though always retaining a 
great respect for Mrs. Booth and her family. In October 
he was greatly pleased to hear that Madox Brown was 
really returning to London and had taken a house in St. 
Edmund's Terrace within quite easy distance of Lodge 
Place. 

On December 13th Brown wrote : 

" Now I expect to be in London (my ' Dalton ' at the 
Town Hall being about to be fixed) about Xmas. . . . 
Rowley has given me one or two rather mysterious hints 
of some great works you are to be engaged on well, if so, 
there is no one deserves more, nor whom I should so 
rejoice to see get it. He also asked me from you what I 
had said of you in a certain Lecture it was very little, 
because, on the whole, they had treated you rather well. 
I merely said, talking of the Black and White display, 
that they might have shown your ' Plague of London ' 
designs, and with them Dyce's cartoons, &c. They had, 
you must know, confined this department to a few hack- 
neyed things out of Punch." 



296 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Early in 1888 Mrs. Russell-Gurney's plan had grown 
beyond its original conception of a small decorated hall. 
As Shields says in his handbook to the Chapel of the Ascen- 
sion, "The direction of the commission was changed, only 
to carve for it a wider channel. It now welled forth as a 
desire to plant in some great highway of London a place 
of rest for wayfarers, and for prayer and meditation, where- 
in body, mind, and spirit oppressed with the hurrying roar 
of the city's life, might find repose and a refreshing feast 
ever liberally spread upon its walls, for whosoever willed 
to enter." Mrs. Gurney wrote in August 1888 : " It must 
be in a good thoroughfare, and I suppose attached to a 
parochial church for occasional services. ... I wonder 
who would be a real authority to consult, and when we 
know all, I wonder whether we could advertise in the 
Guardian, ' Ho ! some London Clergymen would you 
like a little additional chapel for parochial services to 
be kept always open painted with divine symbols, and 
with a Porch with seats and a little fountain ! ' Then the 
willing Clergyman and the site must coincide, and the 
Bishop must be willing to consecrate which he cannot 
do without an endowment, that would be necessary," 

Some such advertisement was actually inserted, but 
brought no response. Much advice was sought from friends, 
who gave anything but encouragement. Miss Octavia 
Hill wrote that she thought that only the associations of a 
church would keep visitors at all in order, though in these 
days of public museums and picture galleries that seems to 
be a peculiarly depressing view. 

A site was suggested in the Bayswater Road, with a 
depth of 100 feet running down Orpington Street, for which 
2000 was asked. After months of negotiations it seemed 
impossible to come to agreement with the landowners. 

At last Mr. Kegan Paul suggested that the dilapidated 
mortuary chapel on the Bayswater Road might possibly 



THE OLD CHAPEL 297 

be acquired. Mrs. Gurney wrote on November 15th, 

1888: 

" I covet that site the disused St. George's, Hanover 
Square, Burying Ground and Chapel. For such a site 
I would spend more on building it might be lovely. I 
would do up a pretty little garden it would be a delightful 
Passengers' Rest, inviting within to a still deeper rest. I 
could leave something to the Parish for perpetual custody. 
Do find out whether an application in person to the Bishop 
of London would be of any use he would, I know, remem- 
ber my husband's name." 

The legal preliminaries were now set on foot, but many 
months elapsed before any definite permission to rebuild 
the chapel was obtained from the Burial Board. In the 
meantime Shields was maturing his plans, so far as it was 
possible without definite knowledge as to the space which 
would be available. In this year he also designed the 
altarpiece for Eaton Chapel, the fine windows in St. Ann's, 
Manchester placed there as a memorial of Queen Vic- 
toria's Jubilee and a series of designs for glass for Mr. 
Budgett. Sir Noel Paton wrote to report on the memorial 

in Edinburgh : 

33 GEORGE SQUARE, EDINBURGH, 

November 18th, 1888. 

MY DEAR AND MUCH FORGIVING FRIEND, I must not 

allow my desire to write you the long letter which, by 
every law of gratitude and friendship, 1 owe you, to delay 
for another hour the brief report of my visit to the 
"Gordon Highlander" memorial in St. Giles' already 
too long delayed, through causes beyond my control. On 
Tuesday afternoon I went to the grand old church with 
one of my daughters, to see the memorial. The day was 
a very dismal one, and the church so dark that the tattered 
colours of the Scottish Regiments grouped over the capitals 
of the great piers looked like so many gigantic bat spectres 
hovering in their murky corners. We were conducted by 
the verger towards a mysterious light flittering about in 



298 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

the blackness under a painted window ; and there we 
found the object of our quest. That I saw it, however, I 
dare not venture to assert ; but one of the workmen who 
was putting finishing touches to the " fixing up " was good 
enough to pass his candle (my daughter, who has a fine 
sense of the fitness of things, called it a "glimmering 
taper ! ") back and forward over the tablet, and I saw 
enough to realise the simple and pathetic dignity of your 
design, and the admirable way in which it has been carried 
out by Mr. M'Lean. When I see it under more favourable 
conditions, as I hope to do soon, I will write again, and 
more fully. Meantime you may rest assured that you 
have not failed in your purpose of producing a work 
worthy of its object, its place, and its author. 

I must not write another line or I shall miss the 
south post. Forgive haste, and believe me, with much 
affection. Yours, NOEL PATON. 



On January 1st, 1889, Shields went to see the chapel in 
Bayswater Road, and met there Mr. Herbert Home, the 
young architect who was to design the new building. 
Later in the month he called on G. F. Watts, and wrote 
to Mrs. Gurney : 



" I thought it a most fortunate opportunity to ask 
him what he thought of tempera. He says there is no 
question of its beauty and durability ; but that all modern 
attempts in it have failed from lack of some unknown 
essential in the formulas bequeathed to us from the 
ancients that I should find myself plunged in difficulties 
if I essayed that medium ; but that a perfectly ' mat ' 
surface i.e. without shine could be attained on his own 
lines painting on a preparation of tempera, and using 
the smallest quantity of oil possible as medium for paint- 
ing. You know how little sheen there is about his own 
pictures, which always have a more or less fresco-like 
aspect, as compared with all other men's oil paintings. 
So far this is satisfactory, and enables me to balance the 
qualities of the plans open to me." 



DR. M'LAREN 299 

A letter from Dr. M'Laren acknowledging a photograph 
of the painting now in the crypt of St. Barnabas', Pimlico, 
shows his faith in the vocation of Shields as a painter of 
religious subjects ; he had evidently not been told of the 
proposed chapel when writing from Manchester on March 
20th, 1889 ; he said : 

"I am delighted with the lunette. The rich sym- 
bolism is not obtruded, and yet sufficiently emphasised. I 
do not think you have ever touched a higher level in 
intensity of conception. Was not the moon full at the 
Passover ? I cannot find the Roman soldiers. They must 
have made good their escape between your sending and 
my getting the autotype. Where is the lunette put up ? 
Wherever it is, there will not be many sermons preached 
in that church, which will be as powerful to clothe the 
story with reality and pathos as yours is. Surely you are 
meant to be the painter of true sacred subjects. The old 
men had a very narrow range of these; annunciations, 
crucifixions, resurrections, ascensions, last suppers, are 
about all, barring the cartoons. Oh, there's the woman 
taken in adultery, too, for the sake of the opportunity of 
painting some Italian harlot ; and then there's no more. 
You have faith and imagination and mysticism, and you 
can draw, so I hope that you will have strength to make 
more of the gospel stories live to us. 

"... My brain is very weary, and sometimes obsti- 
nately refuses to secrete any more sermons. Small blame 
to it, for last night's was the 5836th." 

In May Shields designed the large window, " The Rais- 
ing of Lazarus," for Mereworth Church, Kent ; and in this 
month the Brazenose Club, Manchester, held an exhibi- 
tion of his works, which included many early water-colours 
and designs for woodcuts, as well as autotypes of his latest 
works. Meanwhile the chapel business was progressing ; 
and on May 6th Shields wrote to Mrs. Gurney, who was 
away nursing her uncle at Hereford : 



300 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

MY DEAR MISTRESS, I miss you greatly, desiring to 
lay before you the possibilities of our plan, as far as I am 
presently able to perceive them. I say presently, be- 
cause I know that what will seem to you but a poor 
handful of seed corn will develop and swell and bring 
forth according as the sun and rain feed it and shine upon 
it. And now I lack your casting vote amidst my own 
counsels. No one has such paramount right as you, and 
no one has a heart so joined in my desire and purpose in 
this devoted work ; no one will look so intelligently and 
sympathetically into the difficulties or inspirit me so much 
in threading my way through them. Light dawns nay 
rather, I should say, that my dimmed eyes begin to see, 
under the dazzling glory of the fulness of the Revealed 
Truth, what paths are open to us for this work. I see 
many reasons why the selection of subjects essayed by the 
old men were so narrow and oft-repeated. Here are two 
or three walls possible to divide in so many spaces these 
are one's chess-board and all the hosts of heaven and hell 
to do battle within them. The space is an encounter on a 
narrow bridge, where two combatants are pitched over, 
where rank and courage are indifferent and foothold tells 
for most. So cherished subjects perish from my scheme 
for lack of space ; and I have often been as a child, stand- 
ing environed with starry fields of daisies, who eagerly 
begins to gather and goes on till its little capacity 
to pluck and hold is exhausted, and then sits down to 
weep because it cannot gather all. When do you return ? 
You must, as my mistress, resolve for me which of the 
tentative schemes I have prepared is most acceptable to 
you. Ever since I knew tnat the Beloved Ladye was in 
London I have wished to see her. Why have I not done 
so then ? Truly because I feared to be questioned about 
the scheme, while my own mind was a chaos of disordered 
material. Now I have written to ask when I may wait at 
Cheyne Walk. 



The last paragraph refers, of course, to Lady Mount- 
Temple. 

Permission being at last granted to erect a new chapel, 




LOVE 
In the Chapel of the Ascension 



AT PIETRA SANTA 301 

the Burial Board elected Mrs. Russell-Gurney to their 
committee. 

Mr. Home was instructed to prepare designs, and at 
Mrs. Russell-Gurney's suggestion he and Shields visited 
Northern Italy to study some of the principal churches 
and decorations. 

Many letters passed during this Italian tour between 
the artist and his " beloved mistress," whose soul was so 
at one with his in the task before him. 

ALBERGA UNIONE, PIETRA SANTA, 
September 13th, 1889. 

MY DEAR MRS. RUSSELL-GURNEY, We are at this 
wonderful little place, having come from Milan, where we 
have been feeding, both of us, on Luini, and Home par- 
ticularly on the Sta. Maria della Grazia fa$ade. It is not 
possible for me to say what I feel about this journey, nor 
the rich rewards that meet us after the long railway 
journeys. By the nature of our mission we are both fitted 
supremely to receive all the best of suggestiveness in what- 
ever passes beneath our notice ; and we are both resolute, 
amid the many bye-path lanes that tempt us bewitchingly 
in this land of marvels, not to be led astray from our 
direct quest. Both the churches here are most choice 
examples of Lombardic so simple and pure and we are 
making studies of them and of the principles that govern 
their design. Home admires them extremely. . . . We 
make next for Pisa and Lucca, whence I will again write 
a few words, for I feel so much engrossed with all the 
varied interests of this tour that my mind cannot settle 
itself to write at length; only I know that fruit must 
come of all this delving, and daily do I ask that it may 
be to the glory of God that first and to the delight of 
our dear mistress in the work she has set her hand unto. 
1 forget not my inward promise which you desired me to 
make, remembering your solicitude with faithful affection. 
We stayed at the Hotel Cavour two nights ; we were com- 
fortable, but it was very expensive ; and though I know 
that the privileges we enjoy cannot be had cheaply, 
I do grudge all that seems to me the excess of expense 



302 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

at such a hostel as the Cavour. I do hope that you are 
keeping well. Ever, dear Mistress, gratefully yours, 

FREDERIC SHIELDS. 

Shields wrote again from Assisi on September 25th : 

" My heart leaped and joyed in your dear messages 
and you know so well, I see, the difficulty of putting one's 
experiences into ordered description while more and more 
are being shot in upon you that I have no need to excuse 
myself for making little present attempt to do so. At 
Florence save for two hours at the Umzi we confined 
ourselves wholly to the church decorations. The Holy 
Angelicos were so engrossing when I was at St. Marco, 
that I absolutely forgot the Scalzi but I went back 
and the first glimpse I got of the Cortile fascinated me. 
The slender columns coupled at the angles, with the 
single ones between, the beautiful light, and the noble 
manner of the designs of Del Sarto, made a whole that is 
fast in my mind as one of the most congruous things I 
ever saw. He had varied the colours very cunningly 
some of the subjects being wholly in raw umber, and 
others a cooler greenish-brown. The Annunziata frescoes 
are injured by the abolition of the coloured border origin- 
ally painted round them by Del Sarto. I was greatly 
impressed by the superiority of Giotto as a colourist 
(especially in Sta. Croce) over all those of his epoch and 
this applies here also. Nothing can be more beautiful in 
tone than the frescoes over the high altar of the lower 
church. These I have been studying, as well as the 

frand Cimabues that are seen as wrecks here and there, 
meant only to stay one day here, but it has won two 
from me for it is unique in all things for situation, for 
its galaxy of early frescoes, for its strange architecture. 
The earliest, quite Byzantine, that I have seen, is the 
Duomo front and very fine it is. And the fulness of 
the Glory of God in the beauteous mountain itself under 
storm and sunshine. To-night as I returned, the great 
church in the valley below, St. Maria del Angeli, lay 
under the golden sun as it set, its great dome surrounded 
by a blaze of purple nimbus, lifting the church out from 



ASSIST 303 

the gloom of the wide campagna in the most mystic 
manner. I never saw such an effect before so mysti- 
cally unearthly. This people are the models of Leonardo. 
Buonarotti, and Raphael, most evidently. I observe 
their actions so spontaneously expressive not acting, 
like much French action. And I perceive what a mighty 
advantage the old designers had in familiarity with all 
this, day by day. Their mouths are more flexible at the 
corners than ours. Here, over and over again, I have 
met with that rounded corner of the parted lips which is 
seen in the Greek sculptures, but never in English faces 
and the magnificent proportions of many of the men 
and women justify the types of Michael Angelo, and 
almost the exaggerations of Parmegiano. Home desired 
to spend three days on his own account in Rome, and I 
am not unwilling, though by no means desirous to go 
thither, seeing we are now so near but this is out of our 
sacred quest, and at our own cost, not yours, dear 
Mistress. Then we are to touch Orvieto, and see the 
Angelicos and Signorellis, and then to make for home. 
Oh, that Delia Quercia at Lucca! Holy, Holy, Holy, 
seemed breathed throughout its still beauty. Art never 
excelled this. Adieu, until we can meet by God's mercy, 
and I can enjoy the joy you have given me over again, 
piece by piece. We are both agreed to beware of fixed 
ideas during this period of reception but all our thoughts 
and doings tend continually and everywhere to our one 
great object." 

The following letter is characteristic of Shields in a 
cheerful frame of mind. It was addressed to the writer, 
who had known him since babyhood, and to whom he 
was now beginning to give regular instruction every week 
at Lodge Place. 

ASSISI, 

September 24th, 1889. 

MIA CARA PICCOLO BAMBINO, This pigeon Italian 
faintly aims to breathe forth the expressions of my 
altissima sentimente verso di cara Bambino pittore. 
What have I seen in the brief days of my absence ! Is 



304 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

it a year ago for so long have I lived since, at least. 
What a tower of experiences, from whence I look loftily 
down on the past. And here, in this divinely beautiful 
Assisi I have you in my mind with St. Francis' great 
presence all about me, and the marvellous church, filled 
with art from vault to floor, and the great campagna 
stretching below, rich with olives and vines. Stop it's 
only a catalogue, which is provokingly whetting to the 
tantalised appetite shut up in London's brick circles of 
lost people to which also 1 must return as driven forth 
from Paradise. And the people here are so gracious, so 
truly polite from poor to rich. You seldom grate against 
your fellows here they are as mellow as their own figs, 
and sweet as their olive-oil, and inexpressibly graceful in 
their ways. If I should get a note to say you are better, 
my most dear baby, it would relieve my care about you, 
dear little white spectre, whose pallor haunts me since I 
saw you last. Bother your work don't worry about it, 
you are more precious than any art of man, you wondrous 
image, living, feeling, loving, the work of the Almighty 
while our best works are but a poor silent mockery of life, 
painfully wrought out. Now good night, I am so tired- 
dear love to your Mamma, and your own self, mea 
Piccolo Bambino. If you write, address Poste Restante, 
Roma whither, God willing, we soon go hence. Ever 
your affectionate Maestro, FREDERIC SHIELDS. 

At Rome Shields had an attack of illness, and hurried 
on as soon as he was able to Orvieto, whence he wrote to 
Mrs. Gurney on October 6th : 

" I have been out twice to-day. This afternoon over- 
looking the Tiber valley with the tinkling of flocks com- 
ing up from below, and the green lizards playing in and 
out on the crannied wall. O the sweet heat of the sun, 
and the flecking shadows of cloud over the far faint hills 
and all so strange as well as lovely. This morning I 
went straight to the Duomo. It is a miracle of art hurt 
sorely by the modern mosaics on the fa9ade. Within, the 
side chapels are all hoarded up under repairs, but Signor- 



DESIGNS AND PLANS 305 

elli's frescoes were visible, and I confess I was astonished 
to find that the things I disliked in photographs from 
them vanished in the breadth of the colour leaving a 
most consistent impression of powerful mastery. I was 
not able to look long, and mean to visit them again 
to-morrow. But the passingly lovely portion of the 
ceiling by Angelico I could sit gazing at as indeed forget- 
ful that they are seen on the roof and not rather that 
floating in the open glory of heaven, I beheld the saints 
majestically seated on their thrones. I recognised at once 
your favourite Magi Adoration in the altar near, by Moso, 
and loved to think as I sat waiting opposite it for the 
custode to open the chapel, that I was sitting where you 
had sat, gazing where you had gazed. I have been in the 
chapel of the Duomo a long time this morning learning 
much, but chiefly from the contrast between the spandril 
by Angelo and all the rest. Signorelli could never have 
designed that noble David, the grand Moses, or the 
Baptist. Spiritually, Angelico occupies the exalted 
place." 

Ten days later he returned to London, and at the end 
of the month wrote to Mrs. Russell- Gurney as to a design 
by Mr. H. P. Home, whose task was indeed a difficult one 
owing to the narrowness of the frontage allowed, it being 
necessary to preserve the old ante -chapel on one side, and 
the caretaker's lodge on the other. 

Shields wrote : 

" The design is of the interior only as yet. That is 
the vital thing to arrange primarily, and let the exterior 
develop thence not the reverse way as with most 
modern buildings. My schemes depend for organisation 
on the number, size, and variety of shape of the spaces 
possible to allot within even as do the thoughts and 
purposes of a man, upon the space within his skull. In 
all the church decoration in Italy, there is little more 
than the segment representation of a sacred or legendary 
story in one or two tiers of subjects. I seek to develop 

U 



306 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

rather a sequence of ideas, illustrated by wealth of figu- 
rative ideas and symbols and types. To give the Spirit 
of the Revelation of God to man from the beginning 
conveyed in the forms of Scripture translated as much as 
may be into the shapes at art's command. To glorify 
the Father by a good work which shall teach, admonish, 
and accentuate, with the never silent speech of Art. We 
shall talk over it when I have sunnea my fruit against 
the walls in my thought but the walls I must have 
first." 



Plans and models innumerable, and endless legal 
difficulties occupied much time during the last months 
of this year, and not until February 1890 were the 
finished plans of the new chapel ready to be submitted to 
the authorities. Only those who have perused the corre- 
spondence can realise the endless complications of all the 
proceedings from the moment the site was suggested. 
" Progress was barred," writes Mr. Home, " by a special 
Act of Parliament, a Rector, Churchwardens, a Vestry, 
and a Burial Board, also if I remember rightly, a Duke 
and his interests came in, some way or another." The 
legal difficulties at one time made it apparently impos- 
sible to pull down any of the old decaying walls, the 
Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Burial Boards, Vestries, 
Consistories, Faculties, Court of Arches, Vicars, Bishops, 
all these authorities seemed to the distracted artist to be 
in league to delay the commencement of his great task. 
Finally the matter was put into the hands of a skilled 
ecclesiastical lawyer, who succeeded in reconciling the 
various interests which barred the way, and carrying the 
whole thing through the Court of Arches. 

And then came all the questions connected with 
building, into every detail of which, from the stencilling 
on the rafters of the roof to the marble steps, Mrs. Gurney 
entered with the greatest interest and enthusiasm. 




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THE CHAPEL OF THE ASCENSION 307 

Shields, writing to Mr. Home in December, says : 

" Ever since we met on Saturday, I have been brew- 
ing and stewing, and taking into the scales afresh all you 
said. I have an awe of missing the mark in this momen- 
tous matter, and a most earnest wish that no incertitude 
of purpose on my part shall stumble you, or confuse you, 
in a task of which I more and more discern the difficulty, 
and to this end there is a foundation principle which I 
desire to lay firmly down i.e. that the paintings are not 
for the building, but the building for the paintings. That 
I am not to be cramped into the bed, but the bed made 
to my measure, with room to stretch myself a little. This 
was why I endeavoured to begin at the end, to see before 
me, and to formulate a settled plan of the division of the 
wall into three main quantities or tiers. 

" 1. The lowest to be of subjects with many figures. 

" 2. That above to be mainly of single figures in divided 
niches. 

"3. And the uppermost of a narrower line to receive 
angelic figures which Mrs. Gurney much sets her heart on." 

That the architect, within the limitations already 
alluded to, and with the restrictions imposed on him both 
by the artist and the pious foundress, was able to achieve 
a result so beautiful and dignified as the Chapel of the 
Ascension as it now stands, speaks volumes for his skill 
and patience. 

Shields painted a water-colour entitled " Facilis Averni 
Descensus " which he sent to the Old Water-Colour Society 
Spring Exhibition. This was the last picture he exhibited 
there; he subsequently retired, in order to give undivided 
attention to the chapel work. 

Being again out of health, some days were spent at 
a Matlock Hydro, and on his return he wrote to his 
pupil : 

SIENA HOUSE, February 5th. 

MY DEAR BAMBINO, I have borne inward reproaches 
enough for not writing to you while away. What a 



308 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

creature of habit I am ! Turned into a seething crowd 
of my fellow-beings, without any possibility for a moment 
of the solitude habitual to me I was carried away as 
by a stream, and saw you, and all other things I care for, 
wnisked past me without power to wave a "now do you 
do " even. A hundred and sixty-three mortals made the 
swollen current, with baths and other medicinal affairs 
in one eddy after another you got caught all day, till you 
gave up volition, as a vain struggle. Thursday is taken 
up by an engagement. Will Friaay suit you ? Bring all 
your work and discouragements to me I know all aoout 
them, and how power is built up of them, eventually. If 
you please to come for the whole day do. I will get old 
Austen for a model. Bring a colour box and a sheet of 
Arnold paper, N.B. Easel provided by the Institute. 
Don't get discouraged with your efforts Colour is a 
thousand times more difficult than black and white. 
Remember that its beauty is very largely I had almost 
said altogether dependent on the variety of its gradations 
as it turns to or from the light, becomes more saturated 
with the grey or golden beams, or more sobered by their 
absence. How I puzzled through its mysteries, with 
no one to show me anything only reading all I could 
lay hands on and trying this way and the other, with 
many a failure, on tinted paper, on white paper, with 
body colour and without, with mediums and without. 
Now I can reach what I seek in a direct and simple 
way no simpler could be taught to you. Ever yours 
affectionately, F. S. 

The writer remembers one of her weekly lessons at 
this time, when Shields with a radiant face, speaking of 
his new work, exclaimed : " I feel as if I had been given 
wings." 

On April 9th he records in his diary in red letters 
" Began Mrs. Gurney's work " and wrote to her saying : 

" I have indeed begun to-day, even as I said. I feel 
an unknown land is to be sought, in fear and trembling, 
across unvoyaged seas. I feel that if Art may be used 

/ O / 



G. F. WATTS 309 

in the service of God at all, if the fine talent may be 
traded with in Christ's mart, then there is a scope and 
part for it never yet approached save in a very few 
exceptional examples. I feel that if there is to be spiritual 
life in this work, and welling from it, it must be wrought 
in and by the spirit of life. 

" We are of one mind and heart in this, my beloved and 
honoured mistress. May God fulfil it to His own glory, 
though I be nothing." 

In June, G. F. Watts wrote asking him to lunch any 
day at Little Holland House. He knew nothing of the 
work Shields was commencing, but said: "I should 
like to have an occasional chat about serious art. I wish 
you would kindly send me a line and tell me the correct 
colours for the draperies of Faith. I know you are an 
authority." To which Shields replied : 

"It is good indeed to remember me, in spite of the 
appearance of slighting you, and the fact is that I have 
often yearned to see you again, but have feared intrusion, 
perhaps at some unlucky time when you might, as a 
painter sometimes does, wish me at Jericho. Then I 
heard with pain of your illness, and became more shy 
of troubling you. But thanks indeed for this word of 
kindness, which assures me of your undiminished good- 
will. I will take the earliest leisure I can make for 
waiting on you. Art becomes to me so ' serious ' in all 
senses that I am less and less inclined to talk about it, 
especially in an age that runs to gabbling seed. The 
power of Art for good and evil seems altogether unrecog- 
nised, and I, who have some glimmering that way, am 
so weak and purblind that I keep to myself, going timidly 
on, but at least not giving myself up to the guidance of 
the blind teachers who cry aloud, ' We see.' 

" For answer to your question and compliment, I am 
no ' authority.' I Know none on the subject but the 
Authority of the Word revealed. Paul declares Faith 
is God's gift. She is Heaven born. She is the assurance 
of Heavenly things to mortals shut in by sensuous things, 



310 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

therefore the skies hue is hers, her mantle and her wings : 
and for her robe, white unspotted. And this because 
they who seek righteousness by works fail of that which 
only Faith gives. The 'fine linen of the Saints' sym- 
bolises their righteousness in the Apocalypse, and it 
is said that their robes were made 'white in the blood 
of the Lamb.' If I seek where alone I look to find, this 
is what is given me, and it is the best I can offer in 
response to your question. I bow to tradition only where 
it agrees with the written word." 

The rest of the year was devoted to work for the 
chapel. A visit to Sark in the autumn was saddened by 
pathetic letters from Madox Brown telling him of the 
illness of his wife, who died on October 10th. He wrote : 

"It is no use your hurrying home, and spoiling all 
the good of your outing. Good-bye, dear old fellow, try 
and come back strong for the winter's work." 

Shields was able to get home only on the day after 
the funeral, but he lost no time in hastening to his old 
friend's side, and through the years of life that were left 
to him they were very frequently together. 

In 1891 the little road in which Shields had found 
so quiet a retreat was threatened by an extension of 
the railway. He wrote several letters of protest to 
the newspapers, and got up a petition to Parliament 
signed by many artists who lived in the neighbourhood. 
Eventually, however, the same fate which had interrupted 
his tenancy of the two strange old houses in Manchester, 
pursued him here, and over the site of Siena House now 
spreads the great coaling station of St. John's Wood. 

It would be of little interest to dwell with detail upon 
the next few years, which were spent in work undisturbed 
save by rare days of holiday when health showed this 
to be necessary, and by personal sorrows of too intimate a 



G. F. WATTS 311 

nature to be dwelt upon here. In November 1891, being 
much troubled as to the affairs of his friend Madox 
Brown, he set on foot a movement in which he was joined 
by nearly every artist of note in the country, to commission 
a picture to be painted by Brown and presented by the 
subscribers to the National Collection. Only those who 
have seen the mass of correspondence, questioning and 
answering, meddling and intermeddling, subscribing and 
not subscribing, enthusiastic or indifferent, can understand 
the work this entailed. Not the least of the difficulties 
was that of keeping the whole affair a secret from the 
veteran artist until some tangible result was assured. 
For a time this was posssble, and the affair seemed likely 
to proceed smoothly. G. F. Watts wrote, with his fine 
generous spirit, on November 12th : 



" I am greatly grieved by the contents of your letter, 
forwarded to me here. I will, of course, send what aid 
I can, and think the idea of giving a commission, or 
better, buying a picture, the right thing. I wish I could 
at once promise a liberal subscription, but I have never 
had anything I did not work for (excepting once in my 
life a very small legacy), and I have had from the begin- 
ning to work for more than myself. Also, as may be 
known, the number of things I have devoted to public 
objects, and the number of works in my Gallery, mean 
so much out of pocket and nothing in, and the state of 
my health obliges many outlays that seem to be luxuries 
but are necessities. I am sorry I missed seeing you, 
I should have liked to have your opinion of some new 
efforts, but I am obliged, by the state of my health, to 
avoid the London winter fogs. Write and tell me what 
you have been doing, your work is full of interest to me. 
It may seem rather presumptive of me to say write and 
tell me, but I think you will excuse my ardent desire to 
know all that is being conscientiously done. In a few 
months I shall be seventy-two, so have not much time 
to lose." 



312 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Shields' reply, written on the following day, speaks 
eloquently of his new work : 



" I know too sadly that all the noble works that hang 
in your gallery unsold are costly in possession. The world 
talks of them in affected raptures, and leaves them with 
you. The day will come when they will fight for them. 
No nation ever slighted and contemned its imaginative 
artists as our England does. Yet what wonders have 
they wrought, in conquest of neglect and poverty ? As 
for Brown, the miserable pittance paid for the hrst six 
frescoes at Manchester, left him eight hundred pounds 
to the bad. Thanks to you indeed, for a sympathy I 
knew you would extend, and for the promised aid accord- 
ing to your power. Burne-Jones, Stephens, and myself are 
to meet for an informal committee talk to-morrow, and 
determine how best to proceed as quietly as possible to 
the end we have in view. I hope we shall reach it. We 
have now about 300 promised. I feel it is most kind 
to enquire what I am doing, a subject I avoid in general, 
chiefly, I think, from a pained sense of failure to hit 
my mark, save now and then, and but for these occasional 
approaches to the bull's eye, I should yield up effort 
in despair. Art is harder to me every day, and the 
long years I spent in solitary pursuit of elementary know- 
ledge (which students under ordinary teaching acquire 
early) left me in middle age far behind in all technical 
attainment, and this still cripples me, yet I feel that I 
can find means of expressing what I feel, whenever I feel 
strongly. So I am battling away at a wonderful thing that 
by God's blessing surely has been given me to do. A whole 
chapel to fill with design from floor to roof, an Arena 
Capella to myself. Suoject over subject, all pictured 
walls. It seems incredible still. But the walls are slowly 
creeping up under these November skies in the Bayswater 
Road, and I am steadily adding subject to subject, all in 
ordered plan, to take their places therein. You painted 
once the portrait of Mr. Russell-Gurney a wonderful 
picture. This is his widow's commission to me. The 
beautiful soul had dreamed of helping some neglected 
high-aimed artist from her youth. She found me, took 



SHIELDS AND G. F. WATTS 313 

me for such an one, and so will I prove to her, my 
good mistress a faithful and unslothl'ul servant in the 
work. I should have to write a book to lay before you 
my scheme, but Prophets and Apostles, Christian virtues 
and worldly vices, Gospel and Apostolic history, types and 
symbols all enter into it, so that my mind and heart 
are ever engaged, and I have that greatest of all intel- 
lectual boons a consecutive work, that which made 
the old men happy, and that which is denied to modern 
artists. I have completed about 24 subjects, but unless 
you had so generously professed an interest in my work, 
I should not have said so much, for I dread that it should 
be talked of prematurely, and so the press get hold of 
Mrs. Gurney's dear hope, to tear its vitals with their 
bear's claws. And it is because this work by its magnitude 
calls for all my application, that I am so unready to 
leave it in the daylight, so that while my affection has 
gone out to Little Holland House, the work has kept me 
bound day after day, month after month, till too late 
to come. 

" I do hope that when you return to town, your health 
may be recruited, and so you may be the fitter to recur 
to the work you have in hand, to enter upon the works 
you meditate. As I grow older, I realise the preciousness 
of the few coins of time possibly left to me also, and how 
I squandered from my exhaustless purse when I was 
young. 

" May I send my kindest memory of Mrs. Watts' recep- 
tion of a stranger?" 

To this letter Watts replied on November 20th as 
follows, enclosing a cheque for fifty pounds for the 
Madox Brown fund : 

" I send the enclosed cheque to be used for the benefit 
of Madox Brown, much wishing I could contribute the 
whole sum required ; but, as I told you, I am not a man 
with independent means. How I envy you ! An oppor- 
tunity not hitherto afforded to any modern, at least in 
England. The boon could not have been afforded to any 



314 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

artist more earnest than yourself; you have my best 
wishes and all the aid the most profound sympathy can 
give sympathy and really anxious interest, for it is an 
event in the history of Modern Art." 

Shields replied by return of post : 

" I read your letter to the last words with deep interest ; 
then, and not till then, did I open the cheque, and the 
blood mounted to my cheeks with surprise yea why 
should I not say the truth, with admiration for the gener- 
ous spirit that dictated such a gift, with such added wish 
that you could give the whole required. I say not my 
thanks alone are due, but the thanks of all who are work- 
ing in this cause. You will be glad to hear that we have 
in promises and subscriptions paid in, over 580, your own 
cheque added making 630. Leyland has promised 100 
of this on condition that the picture or work purchased 
from F. M. B. be presented to the nation ; so we are far 
advanced towards our aim, and it makes me very glad. 
Once more my heartiest thanks for the unexpected liber- 
ality of your gift. Yes, you express exactly what I have 
felt from the initial projection of the Chapel and its con- 
tents, that it is a new thing in England, an unprecedented 
opportunity, one for which I am conscious that all my life 
has contributed singularly to fit me to grasp, in certain 
aspects of it and one that, looked at from other points, 
many living painters are better furnished than myself to 
adorn. But I am so free here to give full vent to all I 
feel, all I have in me to express, I who have been repressed 
all my life before, bound, chained with evil and irksome 
conditions. No words give utterance to my wonder and 
reverence for this gift like those of the Psalm 

' When the Lord turned again the Captivity of Zion, 
Then were we like unto them that dream.' 

Indeed for long I could with hardness persuade myself 
this glorious place was mine. What a stimulus to work ! 
My health has improved since I began eighteen months 
ago, a great aim quickens the vital powers, as a diffusion 
of aims lowers them by distraction. I know I have your 



MADOX BROWN 315 

sympathy, for your life has been largely given to advocate 
the introduction of painting into our public buildings, and 
you have made great sacrifices to furnish some noble 
examples, and yet England, that boasts herself of you, has 
never given you an opportunity for a cycle of subjects in 
which your powers could have full scope. She has pro- 
duced artists during the last hundred years manifesting 
gifts beyond those of any contemporary nation, and every 
one of them has suffered from the same national indiffer- 
ence to their high aspirations." 

Holman Hunt wrote : 

" Much more would indeed be but a poor acknowledg- 
ment of the honour Madox Brown has been to this genera- 
tion of English Art, but in justice to other obligations I 
feel compelled to limit my contribution. Oh ! this is a 
humbugging Age, and our country is tainted worse than 
any, or such disregard of really great work could not 
occur." 

Sir Frederic Leighton wrote in his courtly style : 

" I hope you will allow me as a brother artist and a 
great appreciator of his gifts to contribute my mite." 

Sir Noel Paton wrote : 

" I am appalled when I realise how long it is since I 
last wrote to you. But do not speak of my silence hav- 
ing built up a wall between us. A mist-wreath it has no 
doubt raised, but through that we can still clasp hands of 
friendship, and with the eye of faith see each other spirit 
to spirit. ... In the interval I have lost some old and 
dear friends by death (I am thankful to say I never lost a 
friend otherwise) ; but in the more immediate circle of my 
belongings the Gods have been reasonably propitious. 
This much of self which may explain some things to 
you. For the sorrows through which you have passed, 
accept my sincere condolence. But as is generally the 



316 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

case with the generous personal troubles have not 
blunted your sympathy in the troubles of others as your 
efforts to help that great artist and sorely tried man, Madox 
Brown, shows. I snould be grateful were you to let him 
know, should occasion present itself, how highly I honour 
him. I only wish I haa been the wealthy man the world 
so fallaciously considers me, that I might have assisted 
your scheme with a more liberal hand." 

The names of Millais, Poynter, Alma Tadema, Burne- 
Jones, and many others figure on the committee, and great 
was the dismay of Shields when the secret was let out in 
the most unfortunate manner by a paragraph, written in 
the worst possible taste, in an evening paper. This un- 
luckily was seen by Madox Brown, and its suggestion that 
a charitable fund was being started to assist him made 
him simply furious. He wrote to Shields repudiating the 
whole idea, and threatening to write to the papers to say 
that the whole thing was a mistake, and that he didn't 
want any help and wouldn't accept any. Poor Shields was 
in despair. Burne-Jones, who had given much invaluable 
help, wrote very indignantly, and subsequently interviewed 
a member of the staff of the offending paper and persuaded 
him to put in another paragraph amending "the horrible 
wording." But for some time Madox Brown was unap- 
proachable, and there seemed a possibility that Shields 
would have to return all the money subscribed amount- 
ing to nearly 1000. However, Madox Brown was eventu- 
ally persuaded to realise that an unprecedented honour 
was intended, and it was explained to him that several 
people had refused to subscribe for this very reason that 
never before had artists subscribed to present a living 
artist's work to the nation. The desirable end was partly 
due to the fact that a friend of Madox Brown's died just 
then, leaving a widow, and with his habitual generosity 
he was anxious to assist her immediately. So he consented 



HOLMAN HUNT 317 

to accept an instalment of the money and to undertake 
the commission. Shields had still much work and anxiety 
over the choice of subject and various other details which 
were not finally decided until the spring of 1892, when 
Burne-Jones wrote : " Madox Brown has written me a nice 
letter, so now all is healed and comfortable." 

Holman Hunt was always in touch with Shields, and 
many indeed were the letters they exchanged ; those care- 
fully preserved by Shields date from 1877 to 1910. During 
the last few years they were written painfully, the failing 
sight of the great artist is only too evident in the strange 
and almost undecipherable documents, which he knew 
his friend's sympathetic eyes would grudge no pains to 
decipher. 

At this time Hunt was travelling in the East and wrote 
some vivid letters to Shields ; the first from Rome six or 
eight closely written pages full of interesting details of his 
journey through Alassio, Genoa, and Pisa, at which last- 
named place the destruction of some of the frescoes by 
restoration, moved him to write a protest to the Times. 
Shields would indeed regret the damage done to Gozzoli's 
work. Lasinio's engravings of the Campo Santo frescoes 
were introduced to him by Rossetti, and he always regarded 
the big volume as a perfect treasure-house of invention 
and design. The letter ends with a disquisition on the 
sculptures in the Lateran Museum. 

Holman Hunt's next letter is written from Cairo in 
February, with vivid descriptions of the glorious scenes up 
the Nile, new wonders every day. He dwells upon his 
surprise at the beauty of the black and brown people who 
are engaged along the banks of the Nile, drawing up water 
to irrigate the land. 

" These ply their trade and they get bronzed to a 
perfect silky purple, every muscle is playing about 



318 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

under their polished skins, and their forms are mag- 
nificent. Buffaloes, camels, apes, cows, and horses go 
along the banks led by youmj naked boys, and some- 
times these ride the beasts, maKing perfect groups for a 
sculptor. The river sometimes is disturbed as the sea, but 
at others it is like a mirror in reflectiveness, and boats sail 
along with sheets large enough to carry them into the sky, 
and in the boats are sailors in long shirts, nearly always 
blue, light and dark, but always of the most heavenly 
colour, telling against the blue sky and the coppery 
wavelets." 

The letter goes on to describe a ride to the Temple of 
Philae and a wonderful scene where some Nubian boys 
swam the rapids astride logs of trees, and ends with sym- 
pathetic reference to Shields' welcome letter : " Your 
account of Brown's acceptance, and the manner of ac- 
ceptance of the testimonial subscription, greatly pleased 
and interested us." 

Intensely interesting and enlightening to Shields must 
have been Holman Hunt's next letter of eight or nine 
pages, written from Jerusalem, where he was struck afresh 
with the splendour of the chance of painting pictures of 
the New Testament there, and lamented the necessity of 
returning to London. 

Knowing how much Shields desired to be able to 
visualise the scenes in which most of the incidents he was 
painting had taken place, he says : 

"I wish very much you could see the country just 
now; spite of the want of vegetation of large kind, it 
appears to me most lovely in its character. When in the 
day I look up from my drawing and turn towards the 
landscape through the window, I think that the particular 
preciousness and clearness of colouring of the view tran- 
scends anything I have ever seen, and you know how very 
much I dote upon English landscape. My window shows 
me on the left the walls of Jerusalem surmounting the 
mount, with large firs and cypresses as ornaments and 



SCHOOLS OF ART 

plumes behind the walls. The slope falls down to the 
lower (dry) pool of Gihon, separated from Hinnon by 
a causeway leading up to the plain of Rephaim, now 
green with young corn and bordering the line that leads 
traceably for two or three miles to a hill range which shuts 
out the view of Bethlehem (three miles beyond)." 

He goes on to describe the convent bearing the name 
of Mar Elyas, because Elijah is said to have rested there 
in his flight from pursuit, in witness of which there is a 
depression in the limestone made by his recumbent body. 
Interesting, too, is the amusing description of a wonderful 
building half-way up the Mount of Olives, with four 
bulging domed towers like German skittles, built by a 
lady as to whose sanity the artist expresses doubt, and, in 
contrast to this vandalism, a wonderful triple arch spanning 
the road called the Via Dolorosa, which recent excava- 
tions had led Holman Hunt to believe to be the very arch 
under which Jesus Christ was marched to and from the 
judgment-seat of Pilate, and the pavement the very pave- 
ment worn by His sacred feet. With what delight must 
Shields have perused these fascinating letters, but per- 
mission to reproduce them here is unfortunately with- 
held. 

In this year he first undertook the work of examiner 
at South Kensington, having as co-examiners in that year 
William Morris and Lewis Day. Shields never believed 
much in schools of art, and the students had doubtless 
never before been examined by anyone who took so gloomy 
a view of their future and of the decadence of modern art. 
The system of teaching at the Royal College of Art is 
much improved since those days, largely on account of 
the energetic reports of Shields, Morris, Walter Crane, and 
Sir William Richmond. 

A year or two later he gave an earnest address to the 
students at the Lambeth School of Art. After much 



320 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

sound advice on the subject of draughtsmanship, he 
said : 

" Such counsel, I know, is old-fashioned amid the loud 
and insistent claims of the Impressionists and their advo- 
cates, crying out, ' We are the people, and wisdom shall 
be with us.' Impressionism indeed ! but surely the nature 
of an impression is according to the substance receiving 
it. If the finely-moulded seal be pressed on mud the 
impression must be blurred, indefinite, formless, muddled ; 
but if on plaster or on wax, the impression received will be 
clear, defined, a shapely rendering of all the fine mouldings 
of the die. There are mud minds and there are wax minds 
brought to Nature's exquisite seal, and you may know 
them by their works. The worst of it is that the mud 
splutters so loud and volubly of its superior powers of 
receptivity that the fine wax is increasingly discredited, 
until, as Rossetti once said despairingly to me, ' I am 
ashamed to belong to a profession in which the possession 
of intellect is rather a hindrance than an advantage.' And 
Blake defines the noblest form of Impressionism for those 
who can receive his words when he says : ' We are led to 
believe a lie when we see with, not through, the eye.' 
In other words, your sight and use of Nature must be 
reverently sacramental, ever seeking to discern the inward 
spiritual powers that lie within her material and sensuous 
manifestations. Thus only can you ever hope to influence 
and affect the spirits of those whose eyes your work ad- 
dresses." 

And again he goes on to say : 

" If when you enter upon your profession the people's 
clamour is that you make them a golden calf, then look 
upon yourselves as bound to uphold the truth you know, 
and rather to endure all neglect, poverty, and odium than 
give way, especially in a day like this, when all the forces 
of malformed devilry seem united to root out the sense 
of beauty from the modern mind, so that our boasted 
civilisation shows scarce an object of its own creation that 
is not full of deformities or lifelessly mechanical, and the 



DEATH OF MADOX BROWN 321 

settled state of hopelessly mean rigidity of our male dress 
is not to be paralleled in any previous age. At least we 
must not willingly consent to become blind, through the 
sufferance of habitude, to the widening realm of defor- 
mity, or become ourselves subject to its deathly insensi- 
bility to its own hideousness we, who are set to contend 
against it." 

In October 1893 Madox Brown died, leaving a terrible 
blank for Shields, who had been so near a friend since the 
early Manchester days. During the last few months their 
intercourse had needed all Shields' love and tact, for diffi- 
culties had arisen with regard to the last picture for the 
Manchester Town Hall, also with the artists who had sub- 
scribed to the scheme originated by Shields, and who were 
at first not in agreement as to the subject of the picture 
they had commissioned. A pathetic letter from Shields 
to the writer was received a day or two after Madox 

Brown's death : 

SIENA HOUSE. 

MY VERY DEAR CHILD, I am terribly depressed. Owing 
to the direful embroglio of that Manchester last picture 
and the subscription picture he wanted to exchange for 
the former, and the fear of words with dear Brown, I had 
not been near him for eight weeks until Friday last week, 
when I found him all alone, without a word of reproach, 
receiving me just as if I had paid my weekly call. But 
he was very low, and I was troubled for him. And now 
the more thanks for your dear sympathy another of my 
dearest ones gone my very dearest. How lonely one 
grows in age. 

Holman Hunt wrote an affectionate letter begging 
Shields not to grieve at the death of their great and good 
old friend : 

" He had done his work, and done it nobly and well, 
and it was evident that he could not have made much of 



322 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

further life in his art, and from his nature I think it is 
pretty clear that he had made up his mind about other 
matters, and would learn no more here, while elsewhere 
he may, with his singular honesty and consistency, rise to 
the highest pinnacle of wisdom. Death is a very little 
change, seen from the other side, and yet it must be a 
great clearer away of mists." 

Later in the month Mrs. Gurney wrote : 

" I rejoice that you are able to give forth your living 
thoughts again on canvas. I ought to have sent you 
back your scroll before this there is only one suggestion 
I should like to make. It is in the Noah, who in his white 
garment represents the cleansing of water-baptism. Might 
he not speak, as John the Baptist did, of the further puri- 
fication needed of the Holy Ghost and of Fire Matthew 
iii. 2. 

" It seems to me that the Annunciation of these two 
great Baptisms at the commencement of your series is 
very important, and as Enoch has prophesied of judgment, 
the note of Noah might be its Object. Purification or 
Righteousness, the Dove also promises this. 

" You cannot think how thankful two or three of my 
friends have been for the triumph of Life out of Death 
pictured in your magnificent Jonah ! Everyone delights 
in St. Andrew and the little lad, but my elect rejoice yet 
more in Jonah." 

In spare hours this year was finished the large oil 
painting of " Knott Mill Fair " the only work quite of its 
kind produced by the artist, and interesting as showing the 
extraordinary versatility of his genius. Madox Brown 
having only commenced the great picture of Wyclifie, 
it was necessary to decide upon some other work of his 
as a substitute, and after much negotiation " Christ Wash- 
ing Peter's Feet " was acquired, and with the balance of 
the fund some of the artist's fine cartoons were purchased 
and distributed among the various Schools of Art. Hoi- 



LETTER TO MRS. G. F. WATTS 323 

man Hunt wrote in December saying that it was the best 
fortune for Brown's reputation that they could expect, to 
have "Christ Washing Peter's Feet" placed in the 
National Gallery, and that he was altogether pleased at it, 
although in his opinion there were other pictures " The 
Last of England," for instance, or " Work" which might 
have done him still more honour. Shields wrote to Mrs. 
Watts on February 9th : 

" I have never thanked you for your gracious letter. 
Why ? Because I've not been myself alone, but plus 
three lumbago, sciatica, and rheumatism possessing me 
and rendering life and work an effort indeed. I carried 
your letter with me to Manchester, whence I've just re- 
turned, for I thought to write thence ; but that air made 
me worse. One refreshing thing I saw, the Signer's great 
picture of ' The Good Samaritan ' at last hung where the 
eye can gloat on its grandeur of drawing and execution. 
All else seems beside it so small and feeble. Ah me, it 
made me feel so very small also ! Truly I am glad that 
Mr. Watts is well enough to take riding exercise. It is 
wonderful and joyous to hear of it, and that he is painting 
the beautiful ' embodiment of innocence and purity ' which 
some time, when the swallow's return emboldens yours, I 
hope to see. 

" It is indeed a great satisfaction to us to have placed 
Madox Brown's work (one of his finest) in the National 
Gallery. Mrs. Hueff'er declines to receive the surplus, 
except as the price of some of his cartoons, and we are 
seeking how to meet her, possibly by buying the ' Will- 
helmus Conquistator,' if only we can find any institution 
that will find wall-room for it. The photograph I sent to 
you is not from one of the works for Mrs. Gurney's chapel. 
It was painted for the crypt of St. Barnabas', Pimlico, a 
few years ago. Do I hear aright that Mr. Watts has again 
declined a baronetcy. I hope it is true it would be like 
him, and all true hearts will praise him for it. With all 
sincerity do I reciprocate your wishes. May the New Year 
be rich in God's good and perfect gifts to you both." 



CHAPTEK XIX 

The chapel built Mrs. Russell-Garner's enthusiasm Death of Christina 
Rossetti Sir Noel Paton's letter The opening of the chapel Death 
of Mrs. Gnrney The new studio at Wimbledon Letters from Lady 
Mount-Temple, Dr. Alexander M'Laren, G. F. Watts, Hall Caine 
The Chancery suit Illness. 

THE building of the chapel was now practically com- 
pleted, and the two little lunettes over the entrance 
were painted in fresco. Of these Mrs. Gurney wrote in 
June 1894: 

"I left your studio yesterday quite uplifted with 
thankfulness for your blessed given-gift for the entrance 
of our little shrine. You cannot think how it spoke to 
me, and though it will not have the inward personal 
whisper I alone could distinguish, it cannot fail to bring 
to many hearts a fuller appreciation of the wonderful 
parable it points to. ... I trust many, multiplying and 
increasingly, will thank God with me for the fulness of 
His that has been poured out through your hands. 

" I know well you must be profoundly lonely and in 
spite of your inner voice and teaching received and given, 
must feel this loneliness in its anguish at times. Perhaps 
it is because you are thus led into the lonely wilderness 
that you gather so much for all of us who traffic with one 
another in more beaten paths. 

"What a privilege for me out of the Mammon of 
unrighteousness to have been permitted to set free your 
' long repressed aims.' Please remember that when I 
hint at some vision, as I called it, of a possible Text and 
Angels in the gable, that I merely mean a bare shadow 
of a suggestion that may or mav not be glanced at, and 
refused or moulded into something better. Always with 
affectionate reverence, yours, EMILIA R. GURNET." 

324 



DEATH OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 325 

Throughout the year Mrs. Gurney was constantly at 
his side, discussing and thinking out every detail with 
the artist. Another dear friend died this year Christina 
Rossetti whose touching last letter of farewell, written 
to Shields a few days before she died, has already been 
published in her biography by Mr. Mackenzie Bell. She 
died on December 29th, and on New Year's Day 1895 
Mrs. Gurney wrote, having arranged that Shields should 
come to her at Cheltenham for a few days : 

" All blessings of Heaven and Earth be with you this 
day and all the days ! Alas ! for ourselves and especi- 
ally for you, in Christina's flight. What a reunion, what 
a consummation of Life for her ! If you find yourself too 
tired to come after the Memorial Service, telegraph and 
come on Thursday." 

In this month Sir Noel Paton wrote from Edinburgh 
on receiving a photograph of one of the angels in the 
chapel frieze : 

"Your beautiful 'Angel of the Chimes' did me no 
end of good, and has since stood within hand reach of my 
bed, a pleasanter and withal more efficacious anodyne to 
my special aches than as yet my pharmacist has supplied. 
I thank you for it very heartily. What was my pleasure 
when a little while ago the photographs of the grand 
series of designs, of which my angel forms part, were 
brought for my inspection by a friend of Mrs. Russell- 
Gurney's. 

" I. knew that you were engaged on a very important 
work of a sacred character; but I was not prepared to 
find it one in every way so congenial to your genius, and 
so fitted to call forth those unique qualities of invention 
and execution which the grand cartoons for Eaton Hall 
chapel first revealed to me. How thankful I am that 
these designs are being carried out under the auspices 
of a friend evidently so well fit-ted to appreciate their 



326 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

thought, fulness, and beauty. That they will speak to 
many a listening heart aoove the rush and roar of 
London, when we have all passed beyond the dark river, 
must be a grateful reflection to her and to you. I 
earnestly trust that strength will be accorded to you to 
carry the noble work to completion. I wish I could hope 
to see it even in progress, out it is very certain that I 
shall never again bring my blue bonnet over the Border." 

In February Shields was obliged to leave off work for 
a time, the weather being exceptionally severe ; indeed 
Holman Hunt wrote saying that it was really dangerous 
for Shields to continue to work in that chilly chapel ; he 
had been obliged to dismiss his own model day after day 
because the man was unable to stand in the cold. He 
sent a vivid description of frozen pipes, and the poor 
Thames near their house at Fulham, looking like the 
Polar seas, with wrecked barges, and icy winds. How- 
ever, Shields was soon back at the chapel, finishing the 
beautiful " Adam and Eve," working at the friezes on both 
sides, the long panels, and the angels between them, so 
that the great scaffoldings upon whose giddy height he 
and those assisting him had to work, might be cleared 
away as soon as possible. Mrs. Gurney's health began to 
fail very much in this year, and she became impatient to 
see the effect of the first pictures in the chapel. In 
August Shields wrote to her : 

" I have made arrangements now whereby the man 
who will fix the pictures to the wall, can come up at three 
days' notice, for now I see the light gleaming brightly 
through the daily thinner streak of wood that nas yet to 
be got through for a few days now, if no untoward 
hindrance comes, will see the end scaffolding taken down. 
I write this to cheer you with the good tidings. I don't 
wish the text, ' When all the morning stars sang together ' 
put up, because it would confuse my purpose in the 
circular design wherein I mean Adam and Eve to be 




r -J 



TROUBLED DAYS 327 

glorifying God for His wondrous work in the heavens at 
eventide, as the stars are revealed when the sun goes 
down. 

" What say you to ' All thy works praise thee, and all 
thy saints bless thee ' ? There has been many a problem 
of design and colour to solve these last few weeks, as piece 
has got joined to piece, but I think that all is happily 
coming into unity now, and I am as anxious as yourself 
to see the scaffolding removed." 

In October, writing to Mrs. Gurney from Brighton 
where he was staying for a brief holiday at the house of 
a friend, he says : 

"It is a great comfort to me that in return for all 
your patience and deferred hopes, you have joy in what 
is already accomplished. It supports but does not elate 
me, though if you had been disappointed I must have 
sunk. There is too much of difficulty before me to admit 
of my feeling but fear and trembling of some false step. 
If Michael Angelo had had a mistress like you, instead of 
those dreadful Popes, what might we not have had ? But 
they could not comprehend his aims, nor his work when 
done." 

Troubles as hard to bear as Michael Angelo's Popes 
were in store for Shields. Early in 1896 the question of 
a new house became imperative, a vigorous crusade in the 
press and elsewhere failed to abate the plague of organ- 
grinders, the railway extension still threatened, his house- 
keeper developed some form of religious mania and had 
to be taken away hurriedly, and her place was not easily 
filled; other troubles of a deeper nature beset him, and 
Mrs. Gurney's failing health was a constant anxiety. 
Some books sent by the writer in the hope of cheering his 
solitude were acknowledged : 

" Thank you so much for the books anything to 
divert me from chewing my own heart. I have drunk in 



328 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

that beautiful, most pure and exquisite Monk of Fife. I 
truly think it has kept me sane this last fortnight to have 
this to turn to. I thank Andrew Lang ana you, dear 
friend, for its diversion. Mrs. Gurney is so, so weak, and 
filled now with an anxiety about the chapel strangely in 
contrast with her former trust and patience. She sends 
pitiful messages begging me to get on with the important 
parts, and I to ease her will do anything. Indeed ner life 
seems to hang on my fidelity and energy just now. One 
thing only appears to bind ner spirit to trie weary body, 
and that is the chapel ; so, with all my sorrow, I brace 
myself up to go on as if nothing grieved me, that I may 
report progress to her." 

In July Shields went to Manchester, at the request of 
the Corporation, to repair some of Madox Brown's frescoes 
which had been injured by the umbrellas or sticks of too 
enthusiastic admirers ; only to do a service to the memory 
of his old friend would he have left the chapel work just 
then. He was still looking for a house, and very nearly 
decided on one at Baling, but, taking the writer with him 
for a final inspection, a parrot in the next house set up a 
loud screech. That was enough ; Shields fled the place 
at once. Finally an old house at Merton was found, 
secluded in a garden of three acres, affording ample room 
for the building of a studio large enough for the immense 
canvases projected for the chapel. 

The negotiations were hardly concluded when Shields, 
returning from another short visit to Brighton, received 
the news of Mrs. Gurney's death on October 17th. 

On the day on which the chapel had been opened for 
the first of a series of addresses on the pictures by the 
Rev. R. Corbet, Mrs. Gurney had been present. Shields 
records in his Story of the Chapel : " The next day she 
was stricken with illness, which after seven months of 
lingering suffering, endured with patient resignation, took 
away her whose gracious presence, I had trusted, would 



WIMBLEDON 329 

have long remained my stimulating impulse and en- 
couragement upon a lonely, toilsome path. ... It may 
be conceived what drear vacancy this lady's loss leaves in 
the heart of her servant." 

However, with his indomitable courage Shields did 
not allow his grief to interrupt his work ; only a few weeks 
later he was collecting information as to the banks of the 
Jordan, and Holman Hunt sent him a helpful letter, illus- 
trated with slight sketches showing the steep banks of 
alluvial drift with short trees surmounting them, the 
higher cliffs in other places, and explaining the seasonal 
differences in the appearance of the stream and its banks. 

The studio in the garden of the old house at Merton 
was now being built, and all Shields' friends must have 
been relieved when he left the depressing little house where 
he had suffered so much, and settled in the more cheerful 
surroundings at Wimbledon. The year, however, was a 
very sad one. In March he had planned a visit to Italy 
with a friend, when he was seized with neuritis in his foot, 
the beginning of the long and painful complaint which 
troubled him to the end of his days. 

For a time any work was out of the question. At the 
end of April a letter was received, written in more cheerful 

mood : 

MERTON, April 22nd, 1897. 

MY DEAR T , Instead of the promised hope of a 

glint of your own sunshine, there comes a heavy-laden weary 
postman. If the poor fellows strike, I shall know that you 
have precipitated that national calamity by heaping this 
last straw on the camel's back. The mysterious pulpy 
parcel opened into a brilliant crimson plush dressed bottle, 
capable of huge enlargement, and then I knew that you 
had carried out your dreadful threat, and sent down upon 
my already miserable head another debt of gratitude which 
I am not caryatid vertical enough to bear up under. I 
am lying under it now, cruel child I am mash ! Flat- 
tened ! Pressed out ! Crushed flat and only fit to be 



330 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

hung up like the victims of a cruel Ottoman tyrant. Well, 
it is at my feet, and cosy. I am sitting up in an armchair 
and a little better. . . . But the affection is most obstinate 
in its hold. I hope you are able to enjoy that lovely 
country. Sketch whatever you see, with absolute omm- 
verous greed devour devour insatiably, small and great, 
near and distant, trivial and important, rest and action, 
high and low, heaven and earth, quadruped and biped, 
fish and insect, if ever you hope to disgorge in the shape 
of inventive design. 

In May he went to Buxton for several weeks. The diary 
is blank, but a long letter from Holman Hunt shows that 
Shields visited Ireland in July for some necessary land- 
scape material. In August he was able to get to work 
again at the chapel, having in the interval completed the 
first edition of the handbook. At the end of the year he 
went to Morocco for a few weeks with his friend Mr. 
Beckett, being still troubled with pain in his foot. 

In April 1898 Lady Mount-Temple wrote: 

BABBACOMBE, TORQUAY. 

MY DEAR MR. SHIELDS, Ever since I received your 
deeply interesting vision presentation of the sacred shrine 
I have of course oeen longing to thank you in words, as I 
have constantly in heart and spirit. How can we gather 
thankfulness enough to God for the beautiful realisation 
of this long-cherished inspiration, surely we only faintly 
echo her hymn of praise in the heavenly chorus of the 
blessed Te Deum. I cannot write as I would, for I am 
very weak, and have but few borrowed gleams of her 
angelic spirit. It all makes me long to see you. Will 
you come some day ? At all events believe how gratefully 
my heart turns to you, and among the many blessings of 
my long life I shall ever count among the chief the honour 
bestowed on me of bringing you ancl my best and most 
blessed friend together. I do trust you are pretty well- 
as well as your ardent spirit can allow the poor earthly 
tabernacle to be. I have been living very much in the 



LADY MOUNT-TEMPLE 331 

Kossetti circle lately, thanks to the kindness of Mr. Mac- 
kenzie Bell, who sent me his beautiful Life of Christina. 
What the melody must be of the choir invisible ! Pray 
for me that I may be permitted to hear its strain some 
day, from however humbly distant a position. Come here, 
please, some day, that we may listen together for its echoes. 
Your ever sincere and affectionate friend, 

G. MOUNT-TEMPLE. 

In January Shields was again at work in the chapel. 
The beautiful figure of " Patience " was completed in this 
month. 

Dr. M'Laren, with all his old enthusiasm, wrote in 
July : 

" I am ashamed to look at the date of your letter ; but 
I have been torn in pieces by a multitude of daily recur- 
ring trifles, the vermin that gnaw continually, and have 
been able to do nothing that I wished to do, because there 
was so much that I must. I was very sorry to find that 
I had missed you. I had gone for a fortnight to the Isle 
of Man ! the Paradise of Oldhamites, but with plenty of 
glens without tea-gardens, where clear water runs and 
cuckoos shout ; but I would rather have heard you than 
them, if I had only known you were to be here. Thank 
you for your noble ' Paul ' (what do you call him saint 
for ?). I think you have never done a truer embodiment 
of a great soul. The wasted eagerness, the weakness rein- 
forced by supernatural strength, are magnificently ren- 
dered. I wish every lazy, smooth-haired and smooth-souled 
preacher had a copy of it hanging in his ' study ' to flame 
down rebukes at him. I have had him framed to hang 
in mine, and you through him will spur me often. I 
grieve to hear of your being out of health, and I surely 
need not add that my deepest, truest sympathy shares in 
your burdens. Is it quite true that, as you say, ' it profits 
not to speak ' ? Perhaps suppression aggravates the pain. 
You will not suspect me of seeking to extort confidences ; 
I only mean that if any time you feel that speech would 
ease you, I am more than ready to listen, to share the 
burden." 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

The work steadily proceeded until in September, after 
fixing in the chapel the large pictures of " Nazareth," the 
" Well of Samaria," " Transfiguration," " Baptism," and 
others, the artist started for Italy with his friend Mr. Bod- 
dington, revisiting Assisi, Perugia, and Venice. On 
November 8th he wrote to Mr. Mackenzie Bell : 

" I have got. back in better case for my work, and 
much humbled by close contact with the mighty masters 
of old Italy. I can scarcely suffer the sight of modern 
art at present, while my impressions are unladed." 

The next year passed uneventfully in work broken by 
frequent ill-health and depression. In January 1900 he 
wrote to Mrs. G. F. Watts : 

" I have longed to again pay my respects to ' the Signer/ 
for I would not that it should be thought that I can be for- 
getful of the kind interest he has shown in my work and 
self. But all the past year till November I was glued to my 
easel, labouring might and main to finish the largepictures 
for the chapel. (' 'the Raising of Lazarus' and ' Then the 
Jews took up stones again to stone Him.') This I did, 
and in so doing, nigh finished myself, being stricken with 
an illness which has held me to bed for five months past 
in much pain. I am slowly mending, but quite unable to 
resume work, and forbid by the doctors also, who bundle 
me off, as soon as I can move, to Algiers. You may con- 
ceive how I mourn over the snapped threads of my work- 
loom, all tangled and distraught, with all there is yet to 
do to complete my long and loved task. But I have 
learned submission, and it may be that this sore discipline 
is part of the needed education of my spirit for so exalted 
and pure a task. My love and admiration to the large- 
hearted great master, to whom I do not write direct, that 
I may not burden him to reply." 

In this year he began to be much troubled with legal 
proceedings with regard to the terms of Mrs. Gurney's 



THE CHANCERY SUIT 

will, which were apparently somewhat involved, and her 
relatives found no settlement to be arrived at short of a 
Chancery suit, which to a person of Shields' temperament 
was indeed a terrible blow. To be bereaved of such a 
friend, whose whole life had been bound up in this work, 
and who had ever treated the artist with the most gener- 
ous devotion, was hard enough, but when her inspiring 
presence was replaced by business-like lawyers who ques- 
tioned every statement and estimated all service in terms 
of hard cash, the sensitive heart shrank into fierce resent- 
ment, and his closing years were embittered and saddened. 
In December of 1900 he wrote : 

" I was getting steadily better until that Monday, when 
I was put under cross-examination for three hours about 
the chapel dispute, and ever since I have been so low and 
exhausted that I have little heart for anything, sleep 
broken, and full of evil dreams." 

G. F. Watts wrote to the trustees on Shields' behalf on 
January 4th, 1901, saying: 

" I am not surprised at criticism upon the progress of 
the work ; it is too often made in England, when an im- 
portant piece of wall decoration, or a work of monumental 
character, requiring the full powers of the artist's creative 
faculty at its best and in its highest moods, has been taken 
in hand. I would beg those who would urge you to move 
upon this point of time, to remember the result of Mr. 
Ayrton's (First Commissioner of the Board of Works) 
action with regard to the Wellington monument, action 
which was generally condemned at the time, and which it 
may not be too much to say cost the sensitive artist his 
life, and deprived the country of perhaps the greatest 
artist since Michael Angelo ! Mr. Shields is, I know, 
making every possible endeavour to leave upon the walls 
of the chapel his highest spiritual convictions, expressed 
in a series of finely executed pictures. That he has been 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

able to complete so many of the designs in the time, is, 
it appears to me, really remarkable." 

It would serve no purpose now to enter fully into the 
rights and wrongs of this miserable dispute, suffice it to 
say that after being threatened that, under the ambiguous 
wording of the will, it would be quite possible for the 
trustees to take the work altogether out of Shields' hands, 
and call in some other artist to complete the chapel, he 
consented to sign a document promising as he wrote to 
Miss Gurney " to finish the chapel in an impossible time, 
for an impossible sum." 

Mr. Hall Caine, of whom Shields always spoke with 
affection, wrote : 

GHEKBA CASTLE, ISLE OF MAN, 
October 3rd, 1901. 

MY DEAK SHIELDS, Forgive my long silence. I was 
in London when your first letter came, and I set out to 
see you, getting as far as Putney where Mackenzie Bell 
told me that even if you were at home (which seemed 
doubtful) you did not like to be visited on Sunday. I was 
sorry to forego my visit, but perhaps in any case it would 
have been fruitless. You misconceived the passage in the 
Bookman. In speaking of Rome, the writer was using 
the name in Mazzini's sense, not in the sense in which we 
in England use it to represent the Catholic Church. If 
you ever read the Eternal City you will find it in all 
essentials a Protestant book. It does not deny the presence 
of deep and true piety in the Catholic Church, and it re- 
cognises in the Vatican and the Pope the power and 
operation of the gospel ; it is above all else a plea for the 
individual will and mind, and that I take to be essential 
Protestantism. I have lived a great deal in Rome, and I 
am outside all the churches, but I hold on to the funda- 
mental things in the faith as Christ gave it us, and I feel 
a very true charity towards all who kneel to the one God, 
whether they approach Him by way of Christ or Christ by 
way of the Virgin Mary. Yesterday I spoke from a 
Catholic platform, and I had the difficult task of holding 




THE GOOD SHEPHERD 
Wall painting in the Chapel of the Ascension (ante-chapel) 



HALL CAINE 

my independence untrammelled, and saying for the 
Catholic Church what I thought to be its due. I know 
well I shall please neither Catholics nor Protestants, but 
that is not my first concern. You say very truly that my 
book has been misconceived. The trouble is that it has 
been dealt with chiefly by the literary critics who, speak- 
ing of them as a whole, know nothing about religious 
questions and very little about political ones. But there 
have been very clear-sighted critics of the book too, and 
among them were Ian Maclaren, Dr. Parker (in a letter, to 
be followed I hear by a sermon), Mr. Hugh Price Hughes, 
and Dr. Aked of Liverpool, whose sermon I will try to 
send. On the whole I ought to be satisfied that the 
message of my book is being heard. With the merely 
malignant abuse of the literary critics I am not much con- 
cerned. The book can take care of itself on their lines. 

I am sorry to gather that you are in the midst of 
worries. Are they about work? If so, that will right 
itself in due course. I am also in the midst of worries, 
and among them are two lawsuits, but I am not afraid. 
It seems long since we met ; and how long it is since our 
days with poor Gabriel I was made to feel very acutely 
a few days ago when his niece (little Olive, William's 
daughter, you remember) wrote to ask permission to 
translate my new book. She is a married woman now, 
and her father is seventy-two years of age. I was a 
youngster of twenty-six when you saw me first how well 
I remember the night, and see you where you stood on the 
hearthrug in Gabriel's studio and now I am forty-eight. 
But with all the changes I have gone through one thing 
remains unchanged with me and that is the sincere affec- 
tion with which I always think of you, which is a good deal 
oftener than I write. Yours very truly, 

HALL CAINE. 

Writing on March 27th, 1902, to Mr. Mackenzie Bell, 
who with many other friends had spared no pains to help 
him through these troubled days, Shields says : 

" I was much touched by your last words of assurance 
that in this long, wearing, and unjust trial you have re- 



336 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

membered me before the just Judge, that He would avenge 
me of mine adversaries (not revenge me). I am enclosing 
letters from G. F. Watts, Holman Hunt, &c., which are 
absolute in the terms employed concerning the sum of 
work done in the chapel ; tnere is also the President's letter 
of regret that I left tne Royal Water-Colour Society for 
the sake of the chapel work, and my doctor's certificate 
that my last illness was induced by overwork. . . . They 
have compelled me ' to boast,' as noble St. Paul says for 
I want only to pursue my work unnoticed and undisturbed, 
and they will not let me. It is very midsummer madness 
to accuse me of delaying the work, and to disorder my 
mind and break up my days with the legal persecutions 
I endure only for the work's sake otherwise I would free 
myself from them instantly." 

In 1903 several friends, notably the Rev. Hugh 
Chapman, Dr. Moir, and Mrs. Jervis decided to appeal 
for a fund of 3000, the payments to extend over eight 
years, to enable the artist to complete his labours with 
freedom from pecuniary anxiety, the payment awarded by 
the Court being entirely inadequate, especially when the 
expense of materials and for workmen employed in the 
fixing of the large pictures had to be defrayed by the 
artist. 

"We feel sure" (so runs the document) "that there 
must be many who would be distressed to think that 
London might be deprived of the fulfilment of the pious 
Foundress's wishes, or that the work should suft'er from 
transference to other hands. It is too delicate a subject 
on which to dilate at length, but having satisfied ourselves 
as to the absolute needs of the case, we earnestly ask those 
who are able to contribute, and who believe in the services 
of art as the handmaid to religion, practically to recognise 
the devotion and ability of the artist, who has brought to 
bear on his work unstinted sacrifice and diligence." 

The appeal was generously responded to, both by 
friends to whom Mrs. Gurney's memory was dear, and by 



TROUBLED DAYS 337 

many who appreciated the work for its own sake, but the 
subject was always a bitter one to Shields, and no doubt 
he was a little inclined to impute hostility and cruelty to 
those whose actions were solely actuated by a desire to be 
definite, business-like, and unemotional. 

This attitude was in such fierce contrast to that of the 
pious foundress, whose one idea had been to cherish and 
support the sensitive artist whose heart and soul were, 
with her own, so bound up in their sacred work, that 
Shields, rightly or wrongly, had a burning sense of insult 
and injury under which he smarted to the end of his 
days. 

In 1904 the diary is more regularly kept. The first few 
weeks were spent in designing the great pictures of the 
Crucifixion and Ascension for the end of the chapel. 
Among the many entries relating to visits to Holman 
Hunt is the following : 

" March 3rd. To Holman Hunt's to design smoke for 
his frame for ' Lady of Shalott.' He told me the strange 
tale of his grandfather's wife and the game cocks (she 
chopped off their heads)." 

It is to be regretted that this evidently weird story 
remains a mystery perhaps never to be solved. 

During this spring Shields was much troubled by 
constant pain in his foot. In May he stayed for some days 
at Danehill with Mr. Hall Caine, and in June went 
to Manchester to try some hydropathic treatment. He 
wrote in low spirits : 

" I begin to wonder if I am permanently a cripple and 
there's no help in doctors none ! As old Carlyle said : 
' I might just as well have poured all my sorrows into 
the hairy ears of the first jackass I came across ; ' where 
nervous diseases torment they are ignorant and impotent 
(unless you know one that is not). I moon away my 
useless days fretting at my neglected work and all the 

Y 



338 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

watchful bitterness of my enemies who wait to trap me, 
and accuse me of delay." 

Neither the many hydropathic treatments, nor the 
most eminent specialists could avail in this painful com- 
plaint. At one time amputation of the foot was recom- 
mended, and probably this would have saved him much 
suffering, but his horror at the mere suggestion of this 
operation was such that it was vain to urge it, and the 
suffering, now dull, now excruciating, continued with 
intervals of relief until the end. A sea voyage was 
suggested, and Shields went to Morocco in July. 

In August he stayed with the Holman Hunts at 
Sonning, and wrote : 

" I am here for three days, unable to decline the 
invitation, for life grows short, and I now feel that such 
opportunities must be few, and any one of them may 
be the last. But I sit in the garden all day, unable to 
walk for pain in this peccant foot. All remedial mea- 
sures appear vain the sea voyage from which I hoped 
so much has not affected this trouble. This is a lovely 
place so peaceful, but for the accursed motor car's 
sputter and roar." 

In the following year the foot troubled him severely. 
Many friends endeavoured to alleviate the suffering, which 
seemed at times unendurable. Mr. Hall Caine wrote from 
St. Moritz on New Year's Day 1905 : 

" Your letter of so many days ago has only just reached 
me. We were several days in London on our way here, 
but they were the days of the fog, and I tried in vain 
to get out to see you. It was quite impossible to get out 
at all. We are both dreadfully troubled to hear of your 
continued illness. I can well believe that you must nave 
suffered the most excruciating agony with your foot, 
but I trust it is now better and that you are in a fair 



HALL CAINE 

way for recovery. It must be a joy to you to realise that 
your work at the chapel is fast (I hardly dare to say fast) 
attaining to the recognition it so richly deserves. When 
the publishers of a book entitled The Gospels in Art sent 
me a copy the other day, I took occasion to speak of your 
own work in terms which, though far from adequate, were 
at least enthusiastic. Turning over the pages of that 
book, I did very strongly feel how much you had done 
which even the old masters had imperfectly compassed, 
and I do trust that in your dark hours you are cheered by 
the certainty that the work of your life will not only achieve 
a great distinction in the time to come, but bring to many 
a real solace and a true understanding of the mighty 
themes you have dealt with. Yet I know that you long 
for health to complete your task, and I pray you may have 
it, and have it abundantly, both for its own sake and for the 
sake of the high uses you will surely put it to. We had to 
come here again, for my health, though not utterly broken 
(as the papers said), was getting low, and I was feeling the 
strain of life severely. So here we are with blue skies over 
our heads and the white ground under our feet and the 
air full of sunshine. It is a strange and almost miraculous 
change from the dark days of a fortnight ago in London. 
I should have been happy indeed to hear your impressions 
of The Prodigal Son, but you must not give yourself one 
moment's pain to write on that subject. The book has 
apparently had a generous reception more favourable 
than perhaps any other book of mine, although allowance 
has to be made for the operation of those inevitable laws 
of poor human nature which express themselves in certain 
little shrieks and squeaks. On the whole I have reason to 
be thankful and happy, and if the work as a whole does not 
cover all that I meant by it, I think it expresses more of my 
best self than anything I have done. You may know that 
it has been a subject of many sermons in many countries, 
and I think it has done good. I ought to have sent 
you a sort of long sermon of my own which I preached to 
an audience of one my secretary, Miss Waddy (daughter 
of the Judge-preacher) and afterwards printed in the 
Daily Chronicle on November 17th. Apparently it made 
a good impression and called out many interesting opinions. 



340 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

There are other aspects of the book which it is less pleasant 
to me to think about, and one of them concerns our friend 

, who has written both to and of me in a spirit that it 

is a little painful to remember. However. I put this as far 
back in my mind as possible and try to think of pleasanter 
things. . . . 

" P.S. I trust you have heard of the very warm refer- 
ence to yourself in the Life of Hugh Price Hughes." 

Continued illness during this year sadly hindered 
Shields' work, but on November 14th he was able to record 
the completion of the great picture at the end of the 
chapel in the words, "Finished Ascension this day, by 
God's grace." 

A few days later he was again at work on a new 
subject, and during the spring of 1906 he was able to 
work steadily with models sitting constantly. In May he 
came to London to see the large picture, and several of 
the smaller ones, fixed in the chapel, staying with friends 
in Kensington for about three weeks, being unfit, with his 
painful lameness, to journey backwards and forwards 
to Wimbledon. 

Mr. Arthur Hughes, on seeing the new pictures, wrote 
warmly on May 30th : 

" This is only a line of sincere congratulation on the 
glorious progress of the chapel. When I think over 
the enormousness of the undertaking, it seems incredible 
that I saw it yesterday with my eyes. The innumerable 
figures in the innumerable designs and their full pregnant 
meaning and pathos and beauty, compel me to send 
my most respectful homage, and if my appreciation is 
anything at all, to hope you will see in it what I feel sure 
will be a general or more-like unanimous one when the 
final toucn is given to your crowning life's work. I 
thought you looked splendidly strong yesterday, in spite 
of the foot." 



ILLNESS AND WORK 341 

At the end of July Shields again suffered terribly from 
his foot ; an operation gave relief for a time, and in the 
autumn he was again at work. 

His extraordinary courage and devotion to his great 
task is well illustrated in the diary of 1908, when, in spite 
of incessant pain, on the last day of January the entry 
runs: "Sketched from live horse in the garden for 
Eunuch. Keen north wind," and a few weeks later : 
"Went to Cannon Hill Pond to study water for Eunuch. 
Tree in garden blown down by gale." 



Exhibition at the Manchester City Art Gallery Porlock revisited Corre- 
spondence with Charles Rowley Death of Dr. M'Laren and Holman 
Hunt The chapel finished. 

IN the spring of 1908 an exhibition of Shields' collected 
works was held at the Manchester City Art Gallery. 
Writing in March to his old friend Mr. Charles Rowley, 
who had just returned from Italy, he says : 

" I wish I had been with you, for I just pant after Italy. 
The more you study the early art of Italy the more you 
will see that it sought its inspiration in the deep fount of 
imaginative feeling to give out what men's hearts would 
welcome if they would read it, and that when perfect in 
this aim it lost itself in the vain glory of personal execu- 
tive skill and slowly consumed away. English art began 
in Hogarth, in like healthy wise, and has now sunk into 
inanity. Nobody really cares for it ; and since it has long, 
under the baneful shade of the Academy, been the slave 
of fashionable society, blown about with every wind of 
evil foreign influence, it has come to such a condition 
that I can find no one with whom I have any art sym- 
pathy except dear Holman Hunt and Arthur Hughes." 

In April he went to Lynton, and thence revisited Por- 
lock, where so much of his beautiful early work was done 
nearly forty years before. His diary sadly records : 

" To Porlock. The church interior changed and ruined. 
Everyone I knew Pulsfords, Brown, Floyd all dead. A 
melancholy experience." 

On May 2nd he returned home. 

" May 3rd. To Holman Hunt's at 4, by the horrible 



CHARLES ROWLEY 343 

electric railway. He fell while I was out of the room a 
moment, and hurt his cheek. So full of the past talking 
of it, and of the future of Art in England as stricken." 

As an illustration of his unceasing energy in collecting 
information or materials for his pictures, his diary records 
a search for a head of some particular type : 

" To Minories to seek for Jews' Home ; could find no 
such place there. Hunted about Aldgate and Whitechapel 
(pouring rain). To Asiatic Home, West India Docks ; 
assaulted by a Chinese. Went to Jews' place, Leman 
Street, and Hebrew Christians' Home, Whitechapel. Home 
at 9 P.M." 

The end of his great task was now in sight ; slowly the 
vacant spaces on the walls of the chapel were filled, and 
those friends who saw the veteran artist during the last 
few years could not help feeling that with this work's com- 
pletion his long strenuous life would be rounded to a close. 
In 1909 he wrote to Mr. Charles Rowley : 

MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, If you got it into your dear 
old noddle that I had utterly forgotten you it would not 
be strange. But though I was deeply touched with your 
words, and under common conditions would have hastened 
to reply, I have been and am, after the day's painting, 
which Tfiust be done, so exhausted that to many a friendly 
letter it would seem I was indifferent when truly I have 
not strength to keep up with correspondence. And then 
came a precious reprint of the Pre-Kaphaelite designs to 
Tennyson, which sent my memory back to young days, 
when these were a stimulus and a delight of the fullest 
kind. An awakening to higher aims and effort, and the 
effect yet remains. Those wonderful Rossetti drawings 
ah me ! There has been none in my age like to him, and 
life has been impoverished since he passed away the 
great mind, the generous soul. And one after another 
has gone : Madox Brown with his great brave heart, full 
of welcome always ; Holman Hunt is left, but blind and 
helpless, though still with his marvellous memory active, 



344 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

talking of every experience of his life in the most vivifying 
way. How terrible is the thought of blind darkness, and 
most of all to a painter, who truly sees ; whereas most 
men are purblind, while they think they see the glories of 
this marvellous world. But worse infinitely is the blind- 
ness of man's spirit, often wilfully barring out every avenue 
by which Light might enter. TTiat word I know by experi- 
ence is true. " The entrance of Thy Word giveth Light ; " 
and those who glory in their acquaintance with the dis- 
coveries of modern Science, and in Literature, Art, Music, 
and every sensuous pleasure, are feeding on husks, like 
the Prodigal, if their souls are estranged from God our 
Father and from the True Light of man, Jesus Christ. 
You and I have been friends so many long years, and life, 
long life, has been given to us so long that we know it 
cannot be much prolonged. None can answer for a single 
day. What a message of the purpose of the Scripture is 
this, " These things are written that you may know that 
you have Eternal Life, and that this Life is His Son "... 
were it not that I see that " there is no condemnation to 
them that believe in Jesus," the Lamb whom God has pro- 
vided to be the one sacrifice, I should sink into despairing 
melancholy with the apprehension of the putting off this 
feeble body and being a disembodied spirit, with all the 
now unseen terror of judgment open before me in my 
prison house. One does not often feel pressed thus to 
open one's mind even to an old friend ; but I feel that 
another omission of duty would be added to my charge if 
I did not discharge my soul when you are in trouble, and 
in that last stage of life when man craves for peace. There 
is peace only in the faith that Christ Jesus claims from 
us. ... For the calmest peace the world gives us is a 
fading wreath that crumbles into dust. Inere, I weary 
you, and this I would not do ! I recall so many benefits 
from your hands that, believe me, nothing but old love 
could move me to write thus. I have to face, in the two 
last subjects of the chapel, the most difficult of all the 
problems that have encountered me, when physically I am 
weaker than ever before. 

Interesting as showing that difference of opinion even 
upon such vital matters had never lessened a friendship 




MAN REPELS THE APPEAL OF CONSCIENCE 
Chapel of the Ascension, Bayswater 



CHARLES ROWLEY 345 

unbroken for forty years, is Mr. Rowley's cheerful reply, 
written, not in answer to this particular letter, but evi- 
dently to one of similar import. 

HANDFORTH, CHESHIRE. 

MY DEAR OLD BOY, What a charming letter you send 
me. Mind and body as sound as nuts. It has always 
been a great delight to me to hear your orthodoxies. I 
wonder if I am a Pagan or what ? I do not like being 
ticketed. If I presumed to call myself a Christian I should 
burn to behave as such a one ought. The fact is, I have 
read and heard so much about beliefs, philosophies, and 
faiths, that I am muddled. I am just reading a wonderful 
Indian book by the Swami Viv-Renanda, one of the most 
recent holy men produced by the hundred in that won- 
drous land. Our good friend Margaret Noble is one of 
his followers. His sanity and his charity in finding good 
in all faiths touches me. This kind of devoutness and 
devotedness to good in everything strikes on my box. 
The resulting light may be poor, but I fancy it is better 
than darkness. I am certain always that our Lord would 
shudder with horror at the sayings and doings of those 
who loudest shout His name. In all things beyond my 
ken I am going to wait and see, and do what little I can 
to increase healthy joy, true knowledge, and love for every- 
thing good and beautiful. If I'm to be damned for not 
doing and believing more, well, I can't help it. To few is 
it given to believe and to do as you have done. What a 
life ! Would it could be told by a Defoe or a Borrow. 
Send me as complete a set of the photos as you can ; I 
want a couple of the " Widow and her Son." Our love 
and best wishes to you. As ever yours, 

CHARLES ROWLEY. 

That the artist's powers of invention and execution 
were not failing, in spite of continued ill-health and 
sorrow, is evidenced by the two designs of " Man and his 
Conscience," which were made in 1910 for the walls of 
the ante-chapel. These are in some ways equal to any 
of the artist's finest work, in their dignified strength and 



346 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

simplicity they are unsurpassed. In this year he lost two 
of his dearest and oldest friends. 

To Miss M'Laren, on hearing of her brother's illness in 
May, he wrote : 

"So fresh in my vision is the entrance of Dr. M'Laren 
into my studio, so honoured did I regard his dear visit, 
that it seems but the briefest time since we parted, with 
his 'Perhaps I shall come again.' Though he appeared 
in health and strength above his years, I could not look, 
I knew, that he should ' come again ' . . . I recall what 
his warm interest in me has been from the day, long ago, 
when I was privileged with an introduction to him, how 
steadfast and helpful has been his friendship in many 
relations, ever entering with earnest sympathy into my 
sorrows and joys alike. His friendship has been a bright 
gift of God in my being. I cannot hold back this word, 
though I have no expectation that you will have oppor- 
tunity even to say that I have him in most loving 
memory, thinking of him when I wake in the dark 
night, and praying for him in the passage through the 
dark river, whither it cannot be long, at the longest, 
ere I follow him." 

And writing again, he said : 

"Your beloved brother's friendship has been one 
of the sweetest and most unclouded of my life, and his 
influence mentally and spiritually always a blessing to one 
who has drunk deep of the brook of sorrow." 

Close upon this loss came the death of Holm an Hunt, 
the warmth of whose affection for Shields throughout 
their long years of friendship is amply testified by his 
many letters. Shields continued his work for the chapel 
in. spite of his deep sorrow and loneliness. In July the 
diary records: "Put up the last two pictures in the 
chapel," and in September, "Finished ante-chapel." 

But the supreme task being completed, he felt his 




MAN HEARKENS TO THE APPEAL OF CONSCIENCE 
In the Ante-Chapel, Chapel of the Ascension 



THE END 347 

occupation gone. In September he began making some 
notes for an autobiography, but his strength rapidly 
failed, and after a feV months of painful illness and pro- 
found depression, the end came on February 26th, 1911. 

His old friend, the Rev. Hugh Chapman, who had 
ministered to him in his last days, said at the funeral 
service at Merton Old Church : 

"It is indeed a genuine instance of the labourer's task 
being done, and few stories are more eloquent of heroism 
and romance than the completion of his work at the 
Chapel of the Ascension, followed by the collapse which 
was but the prelude to his crown. After a friendship 
of twenty-five years, I have no hesitation in saying that 
Frederic Shields knew and lived on his Bible as few whom 
I can recall. Literalist to a large extent he ever was, 
however mystically inclined in his role of artist, and there 
was about him somewhat of the rugged Covenanter who 
brooked no compromise where for him the honour of 
his Master seemed to be concerned. Severe to himself, 
he was infinitely tender towards those who suffered, nor 
could he hear the mention of pain without his eyes filling 
with tears. True that the thunders of Sinai played about 
his head, and though part of him leant on the breast 
of Jesus, another and quite a large part might have 
merited the title of Boanerges, out of which he possibly 
never wholly grew. But for those who knew him well, 
and who had sounded the depths of this remarkable 
personality, he had a unique charm, nor could you be 
with him for long without leaving his presence a better 
man. Frederic Shields hated money as much as he 
loved God, and it is these two points which stand out 
as I think of him now, promoted to his well-earned rest. 
Not that I can imagine him in any stereotyped peace, 
seeing that activity was the very breath of his existence, 
but to no single soul can I picture a greater relief than to 
our brother who at last knows freedom from all con- 
ventions and shams, where the standard of truth alone 
prevails, and where the curse of gold is unknown. He 
had suffered to an extent which occurs to few, and 



348 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

it were asking too much that such a training should not 
have left behind it a legacy of sternness and impetuosity, 
but the man himself had a single passion, namely : that 
every bit of his being should be used up in illustrating 
Jesus Christ, and in almost forcing the world to probe 
the mystery of the Gospel. . . . This is what really meant 
to him most, and compared to the thought of his Saviour 
all the disappointment, all the hardships, all the rivalries, 
all the self-imposed loneliness, due to exceptional sensitive- 
ness, all the private anguish over which, as he would 
have wished, I draw the veil, passed away, and folding 
his hands over his breast, he grew supremely content. 
Shortly before his passing he expressed a hope that the 
Chapel of the Ascension might never be used except 
to carry out the intention of its foundress, and more than 
once he asked that every care might be taken to prevent 
its being treated as an ordinary church, or ror the 
purposes of a ritualism which he abhorred. ' Keep it/ he 
said again and again, 'for simple contemplation and for 
private prayer, so that men and women may learn the 
inner meaning of the book, and become soaked with 
the thought of God's great Love so portrayed in its pages.' 
This was his dying request, which I most earnestly pray 
may be observed, nor can I doubt but that the authorities 
will put his desires on record, lest they be transgressed, 
and so his sacrifice be robbed of its chief reward, which 
was to fulfil the wish of his beloved friend, and help to- 
wards a holy retreat for the refreshment of the souls 
of men." 




u 

H 

IX 
H 



CHARTER XXI 

Frederic Shields' will Personal recollections. 

IT is perhaps a point of biographical interest to mention 
the terms of Frederic Shields' will. To his friends the 
fact that he left a considerable sum of money was a 
matter of great surprise. Subject to the payment of a 
few small legacies, and a small annuity to his widow who 
survives him, but who had ceased to live with him for 
many years, the whole of his estate was bequeathed to 
two foreign missionary societies. 

The grand cartoons, over seventy in number, executed 
for the Duke of Westminster's windows, were left, under 
certain conditions, to be presented at the discretion of his 
executors, to some public institution which would under- 
take to frame and hang the entire series, the artist having 
always refused to divide or separate this magnificent 
group of designs. They form a consecutive series and 
include some of his finest work, the artist was therefore 
anxious that they should be kept together to be hung in 
unbroken continuity. Their disposal was a matter of 
some anxious consideration for the executors, as few 
buildings in London certainly no museum or picture- 
gallery had sufficient space available to hang the whole 
of these cartoons at once. It was finally decided to offer 
them to the Young Men's Christian Association for their 
new London headquarters in Tottenham Court Road, the 
walls of which they now adorn. The magnificent 
draughtsmanship of the cartoons, their wealth of sym- 

349 



350 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

holism and invention, and withal their unique tenderness 
and beauty of feeling and design, will surely place them, 
as years go on, among the distinguished achievements 
of a period when English Art was still a living force. 

It has been suggested that the writer should give 
some personal recollections of Frederic Shields, but it is 
difficult for one who was for many years looked upon by 
him almost as his own child, to attempt to give any ade- 
quate impression of his strong and remarkable personality. 
Especially perhaps is it difficult for one who, though 
yielding to none in admiration for the greatness of the 
artist and the lovableness of his nature, was never able 
to appreciate or accept his views on many vital subjects. 
But it was a part of the sweet unreasonableness of Shields' 
nature to be in some cases very tolerant where his friends 
were concerned, and although occasionally his anxiety for 
their spiritual welfare would, as we have seen, make him 
furiously eloquent, after a time he seemed to accept the 
situation, as in the case of Madox Brown, Rossetti, and 
his always well-beloved Charles Rowley. In his long life 
he suffered more perhaps from the "unco' guid" than 
from any of his agnostic friends, and the pious model who 
tried to please him by reading Wesley's hymns diligently 
during his rests, turned out far worse than the Syrian 
carpet merchant who delighted Shields by telling him 
that even the Mussulmans joined the universal grief in 
Jerusalem when the news came that Gordon was slain, 
because "General Gordon he Mussulman, he Jew, he 
Christian he for everyone." 

My first recollection of Shields is a vision of a fascinat- 
ing but rather alarming giant, appearing at infrequent 
intervals, whose invariable salutation was to seize the 
little girl who gazed at him with three-year-old eyes, and 
to throw her up towards the ceiling with an unearthly 
laugh. To this day I remember the awful feeling of 



PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS 351 

coming down far worse than any rapid descent in a lift 
and the gasping fear lest he should fail to catch me. 
I am sure he thought I liked it, and I certainly never 
complained. 

As a child of seven I was taken to sit for him, but 
that occasion I only recollect as an afternoon of extreme 
boredom evidently shared by the artist, for his diary 
records : " Miss Bell brought little Tina to sit made an 
awful failure of it." The failure was doubtless due to my 
restlessness and to the loquacity of the former principal 
of Winnington, who talked to keep me amused. 

Shields was always fond of children, as his exquisite 
studies of child life testify; some of his pictured babes 
are surely as beautiful and tender as can be found in art 
of any period. I believe he conducted Sunday-school 
classes for children for many years, but I cannot help 
thinking that he must have made all the naughty ones 
laugh, and all the good ones cry. He held terribly strict 
views on the subject of discipline and teaching of every 
kind, and can never at any time have been an easy person 
to work with or under. 

I remember many evenings at Lodge Place (for he 
could seldom spare daylight hours for teaching), the little 
gate in the high garden wall in which there was a tiny 
peephole for the person opening the door to look through, 
the great gloomy studio lighted only in one spot by a tall 
gas-stand with a reflector, with grim lay figures attitu- 
dinising in dark corners, and more than one skeleton in 
the cupboard. And then out of the darkness would step 
a figure, rather below the average height, always thin 
almost to emaciation, with large head and towering brows, 
crowned with long wavy hair, with earnest deep-set eyes, 
and what seemed to a child a terrifying expression, until 
a smile irradiated the whole face, and the outstretched 
hands inspired confidence. 



352 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

Many days have I spent with him at South Kensington 
Museum, and at various picture galleries ; no more delight- 
ful companion could be found and no more instructive 
guide ; his eloquence before some picture about which he 
was particularly enthusiastic sometimes attracted a gaping 
crowd of listeners. His standard both for teachers and 
students was very high ; to go into a classroom and find a 
student talking or whistling at his work would simply 
infuriate him, this, of course, partly owing to his highly 
nervous condition. Perhaps his physical state also ac- 
counted to some extent for his fiery temper, which was, I 
believe, throughout his life capable of volcanic explosion. 
But though nervous irritability may be inevitable to the 
intense and overstrung artistic temperament, and depres- 
sion is perhaps natural to those who always strain at 
seemingly unattainable heights of achievement, in the 
case of Shields his mental outlook was largely affected by 
his sad early experience of poverty, illness, death, and 
loneliness. When Rossetti was boisterously enlivening 
Academy Schools, Shields, a half-starved boy of fourteen, 
was feverishly drawing early and late, in every moment 
he could snatch from his drudgery at the lithographers' 
shop, or his knife and boot cleaning for his poor over- 
worked mother. When the Pre-Raphaelites were gaily 
painting each other's portraits at Millais' house, Shields, 
hungry and scantily clad, was wandering wearily from 
door to door, sketching heads for a few pence, that he 
might buy bread. 

And worst of all, instead of happy fellowship with 
kindred spirits, he was alone, and already imbued with 
those terribly narrow religious views which made fear the 
dominant feeling of his early youth. Fear of the wrath 
to come, fear of idleness, fear of illness, fear of poverty, 
fear of sin, fear of God, fear of the devil, always this 
terrible fear causing that extreme morbid depression which 




A FORTY-FIVE MINUTES' SKETCH 
(1887) 

By permission of J. Hyslop Bell, Esq. 



PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS 353 

seemed ever to be warring against the indomitable courage, 
strength, and even gaiety of disposition which were really 
the natural characteristics of the man. For although his 
early sufferings and his tragic domestic life might well 
have saddened the most buoyant heart, Shields had a keen 
sense of humour and an immense capacity for enjoyment 
to the end of his days. 

As to the future of art in England Shields always took 
a gloomy view ; writing of the talented son of a well-known 
Academician, he said : 

" A.'s son began by painting poetic pictures could not 
sell them they are in his possession still. Compelled to 
resort to portraiture to live. Self is the only subject of a 
painter's art really desired by Englishmen. Well, Stothard, 
Blake, and others lived by illustration of books, poetry, 
fiction, history, wonderful and lovely imaginings precious 
for all time. Can the modern painter of imaginative 
powers turn to this as a resource ? No photography 
usurps the old place of design in our illustrated newspapers 
and books. Gilbert, Kenny Meadows, Cruickshank what 
opening now to such men ? Every successive year shows 
some development of its usurpation wood engraving 
murdered, its skilled artists extinct. Steel and copper 
also gone. Nothing now but muddled photo prints, 
with all the values of the pictures they represent falsely 
rendered." 

His friend Mr. Charles Rowley says in his book Fifty 
Years of Work without Wages: "I knew Shields for forty 
years, and never knew him without an agony of some kind " 
and this I can well believe. Shields probably never 
accomplished a railway journey without a sense of wonder 
and thankfulness that he had escaped with his life, nor 
boarded a ship without feeling that he must prepare for 
immediate wreck and disaster. This habit of thought be- 
came a second nature, and although in congenial company 
Shields could be intensely amusing, full of anecdote, and 

z 



354 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

a most brilliant talker, there always came a time when he 
pulled himself up short, and felt that he ought not to 
forget, even for a moment, the wickedness of the world 
and the hollowness of it all. But occasionally, in moments 
of forgetfulness, he would " let himself go " and have a 
really good time. I remember his wild buoyancy of spirits 
one summer in Sark, and how, on a sketching expedition, 
he suddenly turned to me with a face radiant in delight 
at some exceptionally lovely view and exclaimed, "Child, 
let's both turn head over heels ! " But he never felt quite 
sure that it was proper for a man of his faith to enjoy 
himself except so far as joy in his work was concerned, 
and he never lost the feeling which made him record in 
his boyish diaries, his self-reproaches for a late tea-party, 
or an hour wasted in "profitless conversation." 

Shields always had a horror of Science in any form. I 
remember expressing surprise at seeing a copy of Kra- 
potkin's Mutual Aid in the studio, whereupon Shields 
seriously explained that he had bought the book because 
some one had told him that it entirely disproved Darwin's 
theory of evolution ! A motor car was to Shields literally 
an invention of the devil, and in the early days of bicycles 
they came under like condemnation. 

It is hardly necessary to say that Shields was a man 
of intense feeling, and to those he loved he could show the 
tenderest affection. Writing to a young friend in 1898 on 
hearing that she was engaged to be married, he said : 

" At the first sentence of your letter a great gulp of 
anguish choked me, so that I put it away unread Tor two 
days, self-tormenting with dread for you. For marriage 
holds within itself such terrible possibilities of unmitigated 
misery that I shook with fear for you. But now I nave 
dared to read both yours and his, and my trembling heart 
is reassured and a sweet hope steals into me that in this 
hearts' love shall lie your dear heart's peace, safe hid with 
one who shall indeed husband you." 



PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS 355 

The old house at Wimbledon was much too large for 
his needs, and many of the rooms were always kept shut 
up. A characteristic letter written early in 1897 described 
his first few days there : 

MORAYPIELD, KINGSTON ROAD. 

" Yes, a bright New Year to you, my sweet sunshine. 
How long it is since I have seen you, or myself, for my 
life here nas been unspeakable. The stove proves an utter 
failure. Hence impossible to work in the studio or to un- 
pack or to anything. Then I have to get rid of the new 
housekeeper who is a tartar, and filled with such high 
notions 01 her own importance that there is no standpoint 
where we can approach. I really think of getting rid of 
the female kind altogether, and getting a man into the 
house who can cook, &c. Did I tell you that the cat saw 
a ghost, and that the house is haunted ? She did. 

I care little, if aught, for Whistler or his art neither 
to my poor mind merits the attention a trivial world has 
given. His chosen Butterfly signature characterises all he 
did and said Ephemeral. But we must not blame him 
for the stupid scrawls that dealers gather and exhibit to 
his injury scrawls never meant to be seen." 

A letter a few days later refers to another house- 
keeper who was so obviously unsuitable that he was 
persuaded not to engage her : 

"Well, as the Swiss said to the Englishman, 'Why 
do you grumble at your short summer ? You have the 
long winter.' Such consolation is ours to-day and haply 
for many days to come. It is like your dear self to have 
taken such pains for me the little medallions were 
admirably done much more so than I needed. Absolutely 
I defer to your judgment in a matter where a man is 
usually dense and I denser than most men, because 
more apt to trust implicitly in spite of sore experiences. 
So I shall renew the search for a housekeeper and try 
to be very careful if you are absent and I can't refer 
to you. I am needing thy dear face for a morning or an 
afternoon if you can spare it to me before you go but 



356 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

don't distress yourself to come. I have tried after two 
models and they can't come. As Holman Hunt says, 
this difficulty to get models experienced by those wno 
can make use of them is another of the many evils caused 
by art schools." 

Shields was generous to a fault, and was, as he said, 
"apt to trust implicitly in spite of sore experiences." 
To the many who from time to time preyed upon his 
purse and ruined his peace of mind he showed a for- 
bearance quite exasperating to those who would fain have 
protected him from imposition and humbug. For a 
small example : One summer at Wimbledon, a pear tree 
in the garden bore an unusually fine crop of fruit, which 
he watched ripening with pride and interest. My faith in 
the gardener then employed had always been somewhat 
weak, but it was rudely shattered when I found the 
pear tree absolutely bare, while Shields gravely assured 
me that according to the gardener on the very day 
on which the pears were ready to gather, the blackbirds 
had come in the early morning and completely stripped 
the tree, apparently carrying the fruit away whole, with- 
out leaving a trace ! " And it only shows," said Shields 
earnestly, " that I am justified in calling birds mischievous 
vermin." One might have been tempted to quote the 
old lady in Punch who on a similar occasion retorted, 
" Two-legged birds, you mean." 

Shields never succeeded in the impossible task of 
banishing from the delightful old garden at Wimbledon, 
the crowds of blackbirds and thrushes whose singing was 
far more irritating to him than any raids upon his fruit. 
They woke him in the morning and disturbed him at 
his work. " I hate all birds," he exclaimed indignantly 
one day, " winged vermin of the air, I detest the whole 
lot of them!" Glancing at the magnificent eagle in 
his design of St. John, I said mildly, "You didn't hate 



CLOSING DAYS 357 

that eagle, surely ? " His face changed, and with his fine 
disregard of logic he said blandly, " Oh my child, I don't 
call an eagle a bird!" 

One joy at Wimbledon was a huge bed of dandelions 
the despair of the various gardeners who were from time 
to time allowed to grapple with the wilderness. These 
dandelions were never disturbed, and certainly when 
open in the sunshine they were a glorious sight. Shields 
used .to say they were his favourite flowers. Great sheets 
of Oriental poppies also flourished, and along the pergola 
leading to the studio wild bryony hung in festoons. 

For the last twelve years his comfort was diligently 
cared for by his housekeeper Miss Dales, and during long 
months of illness it was largely owing to her devotion that 
he was able to continue his great task in the intervals of 
freedom from pain and weakness. Perhaps those last few 
years, harassed though he was by illness and the troubles 
of the Chancery suit, were as peaceful as any in his long 
and strenuous life. To worldly success he was always 
indifferent. His hatred of the modern system of exhibi- 
tions, his scorn of the modern jargon of "Art for art's 
sake," his passionate devotion of his art to the inter- 
pretation of what he really believed to be the only hope 
for a decadent and fast decaying world all this kept him 
aloof from any possibility of popular recognition. There is 
a story of an enthusiastic student who took a rare and 
beautiful flower to the Botanical Department of the 
British Museum, and asked to be told its name and place 
in the world of flowers. The learned curator shook his 
head : " No use bringing us a live flower," he explained ; 
"take it home, dry it, press it between blotting-paper 
for six months, then bring it back and we may be able 
to name it for you." It is so,, perhaps, with the world's 
estimation of a painter, and it may be long before Frederic 
Shields can be placed in his rightful niche among the 



358 LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 

artists of England. Rossetti called him a greater draughts- 
man than colourist, yet no sternest critic could condemn 
the colour of such a drawing as " The Skylark." Exquisite 
in its poetic feeling and harmony is this little water- 
colour a country child in faded blue pinafore, sitting 
on a stile in hawthorn time, listening entranced to the 
song of the unseen bird. This was painted in Porlock in 
the early sixties. "The Bugler," "The Bread watcher," 
now in the Manchester Gallery, "The Swing," "Cutting 
Bread," and others of the same period, now in the collec- 
tion of Mr. Leicester Collier, are of their kind equally 
perfect. Again, in an absolutely different sphere, nothing 
could surpass his designs for Defoe's Plague, or that won- 
derful drawing on wood for " Vanity Fair," which was 
recently described by one who like most modern critics 
is far from being prejudiced in Shields' favour, as " an 
absolutely unique achievement, which alone would suffice 
to establish an artistic reputation." Then the large oil 
painting of " Knott Mill Fair," with its vivid and romantic 
realism, shows what the artist might have accomplished 
in a quite different field, while no one who has studied 
Shields' landscapes, or his exquisite rapid sketches of 
English or Italian scenery, can fail to see that in that 
branch, too, his work was unique. He cared little for 
portraits, but what a portrait painter he might have made 
may be imagined by studying the few portraits he was pre- 
vailed upon to make from time to time, and such studies 
as the "Forty Minutes' Sketch of an Old Man," shown 
at the Memorial Exhibition in London, or the tender 
pathetic drawings made (under circumstances sadly 
against successful accomplishment) of his friends Rossetti 
and Madox Brown after death. It is difficult not to feel 
that in whatever form of art Shields had applied himself 
he would have excelled. 

Was the didactic work of his later years the literal 



THE FINAL TASK 359 

interpretation of the Scriptures by means of large mural 
paintings enriched with elaborate and researchful sym- 
bolism really the form of expression calculated best to 
give scope to his undoubtedly unique powers ? This may 
perhaps be questioned by those who have stood amazed 
at the perfection of his early woodcuts, or charmed by 
the tender poetic beauty of his water-colours. But he 
himself felt that his whole life's work had been a prepara- 
tion for this final task, and in the Chapel of the Ascension 
he has left a monument which stands alone in English 
one might almost say in European Art, as the achieve- 
ment of one man in conception and execution from 
beginning to end. London at least should realise more 
and more, as years go by, the richness of Mrs. Kussell- 
Gurney's gift. 

Arthur Hughes, writing when the last picture in 
the chapel was completed, said: "I think there never 
could have been a greater triumph of endurance and 
character, in any date of Art's history." 

And this surely applies not only to his latest work, 
but to the whole life story of Frederic Shields. 



INDEX 



ADOPTED daughter, Shields', 209 
Agnew, Rossetti's rhyme on, 142 
Apprenticed to lithographers, 9 
Apprenticeship to painter and 

grainer offered, 16 
Assisi, Shields at, 302 
Azazel, Christina Rossetti on, 296 

BAXTER'S oil printing process, 22 
Beale, Miss, of Cheltenham College, 

286 
" Beehive Maker," water-colour of, 

58 

Bell Mackenzie, letters to, 332, 335 
Bell, Miss, of Winnington, 100, 101, 

102, 185 
Bennett, C. H., his illustrations to 

The Pilgrim's Progress, 61, 

104 ; death of, 111 ; appeal to 

Ruskin for family of, 112 
Benzine process, Madox Brown on, 

149 
Birchington, Rossetti's death at, 

274 ; memorial window at, 

280 ; correspondence with 

vicar of, 281 

Blackpool, solitary honeymoon at, 

. 165 ; prolonged stay at, 179 

\Blake, William, Shields' article in 

Manchester Quarterly on, 

253, 257 ; Blake's rocm, 

Shields' drawing of, 256 ; 

Rossetti's sonnet on Shields' 

drawing of, 256 
" Bobber and Kibs," first exhibited 

picture, 42 
Bobbin tickets, 21 
Booth, Matilda, 145, 162, 163; 

letter to, 164 ; married to 

Frederic Shields, 164 

Booth, Mrs., of Salvation Army, 295 

^Botticellis, Leyland's, Rossetti's 

account of, 243 
Bough, Sam, gives Shields his first 



commission, 42 ; letter from, 
165 

Bradshaw & Blacklock's, drudgery 
at, 21 

Bradshaw, Quaker partner of rail- 
way guide firm, 22 

Brazenose Club, Manchester, ex- 
hibition of Shields' works in 
1889, 58, 61 

" Bread Watchers, One of our," 109 

Brighton, Winnington school at, 
185 

Broadlands, Shields at, 283, 293 

Brompton Hospital, John Shields 
at, 18 

Brookes, Warwick, Rossetti on the 
work of, 117; Gladstone's 
interest in, 120 ; death of, 120 

Brown, Madox, and Rossetti, joint 
letter from, 115 

Brown, Madox, letters from, 115, 
121, 122, 131, 133, 136, 147, 
148, 149, 155, 157, 158, 159, 
160, 169, 170, 171, 173, 176, 
178, 180, 181, 182, 183, 185, 
198, 210, 213, 222, 231, 232, 
235, 237, 238, 244, 245, 260, 
266, 275, 279, 284, 286, 287, 
291, 293, 295, 310 

Brown, Oliver Madox, his remedies 
for insomnia, 161 ; death of, 
171, 173 

Buchanan pamphlet, 151 

Burne- Jones, on his early friendship 
with Rossetti, 276 ; and the 
Madox Brown fund, 316 

Butterworth, George, letter from, 
80; introduces Shields to 
Rossetti, 82; and Rossetti's 
water-colour, 234 

CAINE, Hall, letters from, 273, 334, 
338 ; his Recollections 
Rossetti quoted, 



362 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 




^Camberwell, St. Luke's, symbolic 
decorations for, 293 

Cat-rick, Robert, 9, 53 

Cartoons for the Duke of West- 
minster's Chapel given to 

. Y.M.C.A.,349 

VChalk drawing, Rossetti on methods 
of, 129 

Chapel of the Ascension, Bays- 
water, 296, 297, 298, 300, 
305, 306, 307, 308, 312, 314, 
324, 326, 328, 330, 332, 333, 
334, 335, 336, 340, 345, 348, 
359 

Chapman, Rev. Hugh, address at 
Shields' funeral, 347 

Chatterton, portraits of, 263 

Cheltenham College, windows for, 

286 

/Chloral, recommended to Shields, 
122; experience of, 123 

Chloroform, lecture on, 12 

Clare Market, 6 

Clopton Street, Manchester, 31 

Coodham, Kilmarnock, windows for, 
208, 209, 214 

Colour, Ruskin on, 89 

Corn brook Park, 114 

Cowan, mercantile lithographer, 14 

Craven, W., introduced to Rossetti, 
95 

Cupid's Alley, poor lodgings in, 14 



" DANTE'S Dream," Rossetti's, 144, 

146 

Davis, William, death of, 159 
Defoe's Plague of Lvndvn, designs 

for, 77, 78, 79 

Design, Manchester School of, 23 
Diary, first kept in 1848, 10; ex- 
tracts from, 10, 43, 45, 47, 
48, 50, 52, 55, 58, 59, 60, 63, 
64, 65, 66, 67, 70, 72, 73, 75, 
76, 77, 79, 80, 89, 90, 92, 94, 
95, 98, 100, 104, 105, 108, 109, 
145, 162, 163, 164, 165, 181, 
182, 186, 189, 192, 194, 197, 
206, 207, 212, 226, 227, 228, 
229, 230, 236, 237, 240, 241, 
246, 247, 252, 253, 258, 262, 
264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 
271, 272, 274, 278, 279, 288, 
293, 294, 337, 340, 341, 342, 
343, 346 



Drapery, Shields on, 226, 249 
Drawing-room, Queen Victoria's, 

sketched by Shields, 170 
Dubois, Shields employed by firm 

of, 23 

EARLY passion for art, 8 

Eaton Hall Chapel, cartoons given 
to Y.M.C.A. ; designs for 
windows of, 225, 29, 230, 
235, 236, 240, 250, 258, 261, 
263, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 
285, 286, 293, 295, 297 

Ellesmere, Earl of, 16, 20 

English Picture Publishing Co., 
202, 204 

English or Foreign Art, letter on, 
201 

Ernst, lithographer, Shields em- 
ployed by, 32, 50 

Execution, public, 9 

Exhibitions, Rossetti's views on, 99 

FAREWELL dinner, Manchester, 

1875, 175 
Fairies, Christina Rossetti and Miss 

Thomson's, 247 
Father, Frederic Shields letters to 

his, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 
Fawcett, Henry, portrait by Madox 

Brown, 156 

Fenians, appeal for condemned, 115 
First water-colour, " The Toilet," 

42 

Florence, letters from, 187, 189 
Pors Clavigera, Shields' letter to 

Ruskin published in, 168 
" Found," Rossetti's, 264, 265 
Fund, Chapel of the Ascension, 336 

GABEB, engraves " Vanity Fair," 
69 

Gibbs, Edwin, and Shields, at 
Ragged Schools, 51 

Gilbert, Sir John, his swift dex- 
terity, 10; letters from, 291, 
292 

Gilchrist's life of Blake, 253, 254 

Gordon Highlanders' Memorial, 293, 
297 

Gorway & Hooper, wood engravers, 
10 

Graphic, " Knott Mill Fair" repro- 
duced in, 145 



INDEX 



363 



HARTLEPOOL, birthplace of Frede- 
ric Shields, 3 

Hanlon brothers, gymnasts, 90 
Halifax, employed by Stott Brothers 

in 1855 at, 39 
Heywood Prize awarded to Shields 

1871, 153 

Herne Bay, with Rossetti at, 213 
Holland, James, his generous act, 

109 

Home, Shields' early, described, 7 
Home, Herbert. P., and the Chapel 

of the Ascension, 298, 301, 

305, 306 ; letter to, 307 
Houldsworth, Sir William, 208, 209, 

214 

Hospenthal, letter from, 195 
Hoyle, William, his recollections of 

Shields at Halifax, 39 
Hughes, Arthur, 104 ; letters from, 

125, 132, 180, 340, 359 
Hunt, Holman, 246, 247, 315, 317, 

321, 326, 329 

William, copied by Shields, 89 ; 

sale of works at Christie's, 
79,80 

Illustrated, London News, art criti- 
cism in 1859, 60 ; on Shields 
in 1865, 102 

News of the World, offer of work 

in 1857, 48 

Illness, 329, 332, 337-341 
Impressionists, Shields on, 320 
Improvements, modern, letter to 

Ruskin on, 167 
Irish, poor, kindness of, 22 
Italy, first visit to, 185 

" JESUS and Peter," Madox Brown's, 

183, 184 
Jubilee windows at St. Anne's, 

Manchester, 297 

KEENE, Charles, letter from, 90 
Kelmscott, Rossetti at, 152 
Kingsley, Charles, 182; letters from, 
61, 70, 71 

Mrs. Charles, letters to, 250. 

251 

"Knott Mill Fair," 84; described, 
90 ; oil painting, 323 

LAMBETH School of Art, address 
to students at, 319 



" Launcelot and Guinivere," Ros- 

setti's, 243 
Lawsuit re Chapel of the Ascension, 

133, 134 
Lazarus, raising of, painted in 

Rossetti's studio, 263 
Leighton, Sir Frederic, 313 
Linton, W. J., on the Illustrated 

News of the World, 47; 

letters from, 48 
Lithographers, Shields apprenticed 

to Maclure, Macdonald, & 

Macgregor, 9, 39 
Lithography, designs for trade, 32, 

39, 45, 47, 49, 50, 58, 59 
Lincoln's Inn Fields, 7 
Liverpool, tramping to, 22 
Lodge Place, St. John's Wood, 206, 

207, 351 
"Love and Time," design, 210 

MACLTTBE, Macdonald, & Mac- 
gregor, Shields apprenticed 
to, 9, 39 

M'Connell, T. H. M., 113; letter 
from, 127 

M'Lachlan, Lachlan, photographer, 
121, 177, 290; and Arthur 
Hughes, 124, 125 

M'Laren, Dr. Alexander, first 
meeting with, 98 ; letters 
from, 111, 220, 221, 239. 
299, 331 ; death of, 346 

Miss, letters to, 346 

" Magdalen," Rossetti's design of, 

281 

Maiden Lane, 7 
" Man and his Conscience " design 

for ante-chapel, 345 
Man, Isle of, visit to, 163 
Manchester Art Treasures Examiner, 

drawings on wood for, 45, 

47 

Art Treasures Exhibition, 1857, 

42 

Exhibition Review, 42 

Exhibition, 52, 53 

School of Design, 23 

Shields' farewell banquet and 

Exhibition, 1875, 175 

Autumn Exhibition, described 

by Madox Brown, 287 

Town Council, letter to member 

of, 199 

Town Hall, decoration of, 199, 



364 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 



209, 210, 212, 222, 223, 227, 

228, 231, 232, 234, 236, 237, 

238, 243, 244, 252, 261, 284, 

312 

S Manchester Art Quarterly, Shields' 
\ article on Blake in the, 253, 

257 

Marriage, 164 
Mechanics Institute, 8, 11 
Mereworth Church, Kent, window 

for, 299 

Military pictures, 110 
Mills, Ernestine, letters to, 303, 307, 

321, 327, 329, 337, 338, 353, 

355 
Mitchell, C. H., landscape painter, 

41 ; sketching tour with, 46 
Modern Improvements, letter to 

Ruskin on, 167 
Monkhouse, Cosmo, on Shields and 

Rossetti's influence, 135 
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., 

offer from, 97 

William, 98 

Mosaic, marble or glass, 285 
Mother, letters to Frederic Shields 
from his, 24, 26 ; letters from 
Shields to his, 24, 27, 29; 
death of, 30 

Mount-Temple, Lady, at Broad- 
lands, 278, 283; letter from, 
330 

" NATIVITY," design, 106 

Newgate Street, woman executed 
in, 9 

Newton-le- Willows, sketching old 
houses at, 13 ; M'Corquo- 
dale's printing works at, 13 

OLD Water-Colour Society, elected 

to, 98 
Once a Week, drawings on wood for, 

68,70 
Ordsall Hall, threatened by builders, 

160, 167 

Old Hall, 154 

Organ-grinders and street music, 107 
Orvieto, Shields at, 304 

PADUA, letter from, 194 

Paris, letter from, 186 ; mosaic 

workers in, 293 
Patience, Gilbert and Sullivan's, 

Shields at, 264 



Paton, Sir Noel, letters from, 257, 

276, 289, 290, 297, 315, 325 
Penkill Castle, Rossetti at, 127 
44 Perlascura," Rossetti's, 205 
Personal characteristics, 352 
Photographs, retouching for Ros- 

eetti, 205 
Photography, Shields knowledge of, 

139 

Press, Shields' letters to, 136, 137 
Picture, first attempts at, 42 ; first 

exhibited, 42 
Pilgrim's Progress, commission for 

designs for, 61, 64, 65, 69; 

now in Victoria and Albert 

Museum, 66 ; Rossetti's letter 

on, 92 
Plague of London, designs for 

Defoe's, 77, 78, 79, 87 ; Ruskin 

on, 88 
Porlock, 47 ; early water-colours at, 

70 ; revisited, 108, 342 
Portraits at seven shillings, 22 
Posters, colouring figures on, 13; 

designs for, 39 

Prize, Heywood, awarded, 1871, 153 
Punch, drawings for, 150 
Puritanism, Ruskin's views on, 69 

Rachde Felley, A, illustrations to, 32 

Rahab, 115 

Reynolds' Miscellany, 10, 34 

44 Robber Monk," woodcut in Once a 

Week, 68 

Rossetti, Christina, letters from, 
247, 267, 269, 270, 271, 280, 
283 ; death of, 325 

Dante Gabriel, first meeting 

with, 82; letters from, 83, 

^ 91, 97, 99, 113, 114, 117, 127, 

V- v<* 137, 139, 141, 142, 144, 145, 

\ * 150, 183, 202, 204, 206, 211, 

A*'' 216, 217, 219, 223, 228, 230, 

' ,/v 233, 234, 235, 236, 241, 242, 

l-> 244, 246, 252, 256, 257, 258, 

JL^ 259, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 

V 266, 268, 269, 271, 272; 

~ C letters to, 96, 116, 130 ; and 
\ J Madox Brown, joint letter 

^ from, 115; on methods of 
^ .<v drawing in coloured chalks, 
I~>JL 129, 145; on Pilgrim's Pro- 
r ' \ gress designs, 92 ; his influ- 

rj/ ence on Shields' work, 135 ; 
^A and Gilbert and Sullivan's 



INDEX 



Patience, 31 ; death of, 273 ; 
his room drawn from memory 
by Sir John Gilbert, 292; 
memorial windows, 280, 281, 
282, 283 

Rossetti, W. M., letter from, 273 

Rowbotham, John, picture dealer, 
73, 74, 75 

Rowley, Charles, 185, 353 ; letter to, 
343 ; letter from, 345 

Rowlandson and Wheatley com- 
pared, 7 

"Royal Group," M'Lachlan's, 161, 
170, 177, 178, 181, 290 

Ruskin, John James, letter from, 67 

John, letters from, 67, 68, 69, 

73, 103 ; letters to, 87, 88, 112, 
156, 167 ; generous offer from, 
123 ; Rossetti refers to, 183 

Russell-Gurney, Mrs., first meeting 
with, 278 ; letters from, 296, 
297, 322, 324, 325 ; letters to, 
294, 298, 300, 301, 302, 304, 
305, 308, 326, 327 ; death of, 
328 

Russell Street, Hulme, 59 

ST. ANNE'S, Manchester, windows 

for, 297 
St. Barnabas', Pimlico, lunette in 

crypt of, 299, 323 
St. Clement Danes, 6 
St. Clement Danes Charity School, 

8, 12 
St. Luke's, Camberwell, symbolic 

decorations for, 293 
Sandgate, military pictures at, 110 
Santander, Spanish prison in, 4 
Sark, Shields at, 288, 310, 354 
School days at St. Clement Danes, 8 

of Art, Somerset House, 1847, 9 

of Design, Manchester, 23, 50, 51 
Schools of Art, Shields examiner at, 

319 

Ragged, Shields' work in, 51 
Scottish contingent in aid of Isa- 
bella of Spain, 3 

Scott, William Bell, 127, 130, 147 ; 
letter from, 231 

Professor A. J., 14, 93 
Sculpture Galleries, British Mu- 
seum, 9 

Shields, Edwin, letters from, 25, 34, 
36 ; letters to, 34, 37, 40, 43, 
52, 54, 55 ; death of, 56 



Shields, Frederic James 

Addresses students at Lambeth 
School of Art, 319 

And the Manchester Town Hall 
decorations, 199, 209, 210, 
212, 222, 223, 227, 228, 231, 
232, 234, 235, 237, 238, 243, 
244, 252, 261, 284, 312 

Apprenticed to lithographers, 9 

And M'Lachlan the photog- 
rapher, 121, 139, 161, 164- 
177, 178, 180, 181 

And William Morris, 98, 285 

Appeals to Ruskin for family of 
C. H. Bennett, 112 

Article on William Blake in 
Manchester Quarterly, 253, 257 

At Assisi, 302 

At Blackpool, 165, 179 

At Brighton, 185 

At Halifax, in 1855, 39 

At Lodge Place, St. John's Wood, 
206, 207, 351 

At Mechanics Institute, 11 

At the Manchester School of 
Design, 23 

At Newton-le-Willows, 13 

At Orvieto, 304 

At Ordsall Old Hall, 154 

At Porlock, 47, 70, 108, 342 

At Russell Street, Hulme, 59 

At St. Clement Danes Charity 
School, 8, 12 

At School of Art, Somerset 
House, 9 

At Siena, 191 

At Stanhope Street, Clare Market, 
6,29 

At Venice, 192 

At Wimbledon, 329, 341 

At Winnington Hall, 100, 101, 
156 

Awarded Hey wood Prize, 1871, 
153 

Brothers, death of, 56, 66 

Cartoons given to Y.M.C.A., 349 

Chapel of the Ascension, 296, 297, 
298, 300, 305, 306, 307, 308, 
312, 314, 324, 326, 328, 330, 
332, 333, 334, 335, 336, 340, 
345, 348, 359 

Colours posters, 13 

Contributions to Gilchrist's Life of 
Blake, 253, 254 

Describes his early home, 7 



366 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 



Shields, Frederic James 

Design for " Vanity Fair," 65, 66, 

68, 69, 85 

Design of " Love and Time," 210 
Designing trade tickets, 47 
Designs for Baxter's oil prints, 22 
Designs decorations for St. 

Luke's, Camberwell, 293 
Designs for Defoe's Plague of 

London, 77, 78, 79, 87 
Designs for Pilgrim s Progress, 60, 

61, 64, 65, 66, 69, 92 
Designs for Eaton Hall Chapel, 
225, 229, 230, 235, 236, 240. 
250, 258, 261, '263, 264-269, 
, 285, 293, 295, 297 
\ Designs Rossetti memorial win- 
dow, 280 

Diary, extracts from, 10, 43, 45, 47, 
48, 50, 52, 55, 58, 59, 60, 63, 
64, 65, 66, 67, 70, 72, 73, 75, 
76, 77, 79, 80, 89, 90, 92, 94, 
95, 98, 100, 104, 105, 108, 109, 
145, 162, 163, 164, 165, 181, 
182, 186, 189, 192, 194, 197, 
206, 207, 212, 226, 227, 252, 
253, 258, 262, 264, 265, 266, 
267, 268, 269, 271, 272, 274, 
278, 279, 288, 293, 294, 337, 
340, 341, 342, 346 
Drawing of Blake's death-room, 

256 

Drawings for Once a Week, 68, 70 
Drawings for Punch, 150 
Drawings on wood for Manchester 
Art Treasures Examiner, 45, 
47 
Early Drawings of Worsley Hall, 

15, 16, 19 

Early lessons from Robert Car- 
rick, 9 
Early water-colours 

' Whistle and Answer," 49, 50 

' Beehive Maker," 58 

' Wesley Preaching," 115 

'The Bugler," 110, 113 

' One of our Bread Watchers," 

109 

' The Holly Gatherers," 47 
' After the Storming," 111 
4 Bobber and Kibs," 42 
' The Toilet," 42 
1 What's O'clock," 51 
' Bo-Peep," 78 
' Cutting Bread," 79 



Shields, Frederic James 
" Girl with Pickel," 78 
" Desire stronger than Fear," 

89, 102 
" The Drummer Boy's Dream," 

110, 119 

" Solomon Eagle," 133 
" Knott Mill Fair," 145 
Elected to the Old Water-Colour 

Society, 98 

Examiner at Schools of Art, 319 
Experience of chloral, 123 
Father, death of, 21 ; Letters to, 

15 to 20 
Farewell banquet, Manchester, 

1875, 175 

First exhibited picture, 42 
First book illustrations, 32 
First commission for picture, 42 
First meeting with Rossetti, 82 
First meeting with Mrs. Russell- 

Gurney, 278 
First sketching tour, 46 
First visit to Italy, 185 
Funeral address, 347 
Gordon Highlanders' Memorial, 

293, 297 

Hatred of organ-grinders, 107, 110 

His adopted daughter, 209 

His passion for sketching, 23 

House at Cornbrook Park, 1 14 

In Cupid's Alley, 14 

In Padua, 194 

Knowledge of photography, 139 

Last years, 357 

Letter to Charles Rowley, 343 

Letter to Herbert Home, 307 

Letter to Manchester Town 

Council, 199 
Letter to Raskin, published in 

Fors tfavigera, 168 
Letters to Mackenzie Bell, 332, 

335 
Letters to brother, 34, 37, 40, 43, 

52, 54, 55 

Letter to the Council of Man- 
chester Institution, 153 
Letters to Miss M'Laren, 346 
Letters to Ernestine Mills, 303, 

307, 321, 327, 329, 337, 338, 

353, 355 

Letters to the Press, 136, 137 
Letters to Mrs. Russell-Gurney, 

294, 298, 300, 301, 302, 304, 
305, 308, 326, 327 



INDEX 



367 



Shields, Frederic James 

Letters to Rossefcti, 96, 116, 130 

Letters to John Raskin, 87, 88, 
112, 156, 167 

Letters to Miss E. G. Thomson, 
179, 249 

Letters to G. F. Watts, 309, 312, 
314 

Letters to Mrs. Watts, 323, 332 

Letters to his mother, 24, 27, 29 

Letters to his wife, 164, 174, 175, 
186, 187, 189, 191, 192, 194, 
195, 202, 203, 207, 208, 213, 
214, 215, 219, 274, 283 

Lunette in crypt of St. Barnabas', 
Pimlico, 299, 323 

"Man and his Conscience" de- 
signs, 345 

Marriage, 164 

Meets Professor A. T. Scott, 94 

Meets Swinburne, 104 

Mother, death of, 30 

Offered apprenticeship to painter 
and grainer, 16 

Oil painting, " Knott Mill Fair," 
323 

On impressionists, 320 

On stained glass, 229 

On study of drapery, 226, 249 

On Sundays in Italy, 193, 194 

On theatres, 30 

On the future of English Art, 
353 

Painting in Rossetti's studio, 211, 
263 

Paints military pictures at Sand- 
gate, 110 

Paints portrait of Mrs. Booth, 
295 

Paints portraits at 7/- a head, 22 

Personal characteristics, 352 

Picture reproduced in illustrated 
London News, 1859, 60 

Re-touching, Rossetti's photo- 
graphs, 205 

School days, 8 

Sketches in Windsor Castle, 170 

Sketching in streets, 29 

Solomon Eagle, 77 

Trade lithography, designing for, 
21, 32, 39, 45, 49, 50, 58, 59 

Tramps to Liverpool, 22 

Visits Broadlands, 283, 293 

Window for Mereworth Church, 
Kent, 299 



Shields, Frederic James 

Windows for St. Anne's, Man- 
chester, 297 

Windowsfor Cheltenham College, 
286 

Windows for Sir William Houlds 
worth, 208, 209, 214 

Work in Ragged Schools, 51 

Will of, 349 

With mosaic workers in Paris, 
293 

With Rossetti at Herne Bay, 213 ; 
at Birchington, 274 

Mrs. F., letters to, 164, 174, 175, 

178, 186, 187, 189, 191, 194, 
195, 202, 203, 207, 208, 213, 
214, 215, 219, 274, 283 

Mrs Georgina, straw hat maker, 

3 ; letters to, 24, 27, 29 ; 
letters from, 24, 26 ; death 
of, 31 

Horace, walks from Manchester 

to London, 33 ; death of, 66 

James, Dumfriesshire sergeant, 

2,6 

John, bookbinder, stationer, and 

printer, 2, 3, 12, 14; his 

military service in Spain, 3 ; 

death of, 21 ; letters to, 15, 

16, 18, 19, 20 
Siena, letter from, 191 
Silhouettes, Rossetti's enthusiasm 

for, 241 
Sketching, Shields' overmastering 

passion for, 23 
Skill, Fred, illustrator, 10 
" Skylark, The," early water-colour, 

358 
Smetham, James, 140, 141, 153, 227, 

228, 230, 244, 253 
Smith, Orrin, engraves Shields' 

picture for Illustrated London 

News, 60 

Snakes as pets, 130 
Snow picture, 108 
Solomon, Simeon, 105 
Somerset House School of Art, 9 
South Kensington School of Art, 

Shields examiner at, 319 
Stained glass, first designs for, 208 ; 

Shields' views on, 229 
Stanhope Street, Clare Market, 6, 

29 

Street music, affliction of, 110 
Sunday in Padua, 194 



368 



LIFE OF FREDERIC SHIELDS 



Sunday in Venice, 193 
Swinburne, 104, 121 

Te Deum Laud-nuns, designs for 
glass in Eaton Hall Chapel, 
225 

Theatre, Shields' views on, 30 

Thomson, Miss E. G., letters to, 
179, 249 

" Triumph of Faith," series of de- 
signs for glass, 209 

"VANITY FAIR " design, 65; first de- 
sign abandoned, 66 ; Ruskin 
on, 68 ; engraved by Gaber, 
69 ; description of, 85 

Venice, letter from, 192 

Victoria, Queen, her drawing-room 
sketched by Shields, 170 

WATERHOUSE, Alfred, 208, 222, 
225, 271, 285 

Water-Colour Society, Old, Shields 
elected member of, 98 

Watts-Dunton, Theodore, men- 
tioned, 206, 207, 211, 213, 233, 
253 273 

Watts, G. F., letters from, 280, 311, 
313, 333 ; letters to, 309, 312, 
314 



Watts, G. F., Mrs., letters to, 323, 

332 
Wesley preaching, water-colour of, 

115 
Westminster, Duke of, designs for, 

225, 229, 230, 235, 236, 240, 

250, 258, 261, 263, 264, 265, 

266, 267, 268, 269, 276, 285, 

286, 288, 293, 295, 297 
" Whistle and Answer," early water- 

colour, 49, 50 

{jVill of Frederic Shields, 349 
Wimbledon, Shields at, 329, 341, 
Windsor Castle, Shields' sketches 

in, 170 
Winnington Hall, 100, 101, 156, 

157 

Winnington at Brighton, 185 
Worsley Hall and Church, 15, 16 

drawings of, 19 
Wood engraving, drawing for, 43, 

45, 47, 48, 59, 60, 63, 67, 69, 

77,78 

YOUNG Men's Christian Association, 
Shields' cartoons given to, 
349 

Young's Night Thoughts, Blake's de- 
signs for, 254, 255, 257 



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Edinburgh & London 



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