14 Chatham Place, E.C.
7 February 1857
My dear Scott,
Manuscript Addition: about my picture St. Cuthbert
Editorial Description: Scott's note.
I have been meaning to write to you ever since Brown showed us the photograph from
your noble picture of St. Cuthbert. I had not, in the state of sleepy worry in which
one lives, yet woke up to the consciousness that such things were being done out
there, & it came to me as a most delightful surprise. I shall hope some day
to see the original. You must really,
all things considered, have been very
quick about it. The amount of work is very great. I suppose it is the only picture
existing, of so definitely "historical" a class, in which the surroundings are all
real studies from nature—a great thing to have done. The sky & sea
sky and sea, & the boats are as accurate & real as if you had got
such things to sit to you. The whole scene too, and the quiet way in which the
incident is occurring, at once strike the
spectator with the immense advantage of simple truth in historical art over the
"monumental" style. The figures all seem very fine—though their lower
limbs are out of focus in the photograph. The only one which at all fails to satisfy
me is the priest in the centre; but perhaps you are right in curtailing him of much
individuality—i.e. to judge by such specimens as the cloth chiefly affords
us in these days. A series of works such as St.
Cuthbert cannot fail in establishing your
reputation. I hear you are now at work on the "Building of the Roman Wall". I shall
long to see the series complete. One of the subjects—the taking down of
the gauntlets—should inspire you—a most glorious opportunity
for a stirring work.
I have done a few water-colours in my small way lately, and have
designed 5 blocks for the Tennyson, some of which are still cutting and maiming. It
is a thankless task. After a fortnight's work, my block goes to the engraver like
Agag, delicately, & is hewn in pieces before the Lord Harry.
- O woodman, spare that block,
- O gash not anyhow !
- It took 10 days by clock—
- I'd fain protect it now.
- (Chorus of wild laughter—
- the curtain falls)
Linton did two for me, & I am convinced that he is a long way the best engraver living now that old Thompson is nearly out
of the field. But unluckily the two of mine that went to Linton were just the least elaborate. All the
careful ones have gone to Dalziel, & have fared but miserably, though I am sure the greatest
pains have been bestowed on them. I yesterday made Linton's acquaintance, as he has come to London on business. He seems
a most agreeable fellow. I am hoping to have some impressions of photographs which have been taken from one or two of my
blocks, & in such case to send you copies. I have no copies either of a poem or two which I lately printed in
Oxford & Cambridge Magazine
, but will try to get some &
send them to you. Two young men, projectors of that Magazine, recently come from Oxford, are very intimate friends of mine.
Their names are Morris & Jones. They have turned artists instead of taking up any career to which the university generally
leads, and are both men of real genius. Ruskin has the most unbounded hopes of them both. Jones's designs are marvels of
finish & imaginative detail, unequalled by
except perhaps Albert Dürer; &
Morris, though with less practice as yet, has no less power I fancy. He has written some really wonderful poetry too. As
I happen to have a song of his in my pocket, I enclose it to you and I think you will like it.
I dare say you have heard from my brother about the Seddon Committee.
Pray remember me kindly to Mrs. Scott, & to Sir W. & Lady Trevelyan when you see them, & believe me
Most sincerely yours
D. G. Rossetti