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    Chapter 3

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    I was not an industrious student and knew only what I had found by
    accident, and I had found "nothing I cared for after Titian--and
    Titian I knew chiefly from a copy of 'the supper of Emmaus' in
    Dublin--till Blake and the Pre-Raphaelites;" and among my father's
    friends were no Pre-Raphaelites. Some indeed had come to Bedford
    Park in the enthusiasm of the first building, and others to be
    near those that had. There was Todhunter, a well-off man who had
    bought my father's pictures while my father was still Pre-
    Raphaelite. Once a Dublin doctor he was a poet and a writer of
    poetical plays: a tall, sallow, lank, melancholy man, a good
    scholar and a good intellect; and with him my father carried on a
    warm exasperated friendship, fed I think by old memories and
    wasted by quarrels over matters of opinion. Of all the survivors
    he was the most dejected, and the least estranged, and I remember
    encouraging him, with a sense of worship shared, to buy a very
    expensive carpet designed by Morris. He displayed it without
    strong liking and would have agreed had there been any to find
    fault. If he had liked anything strongly he might have been a
    famous man, for a few years later he was to write, under some
    casual patriotic impulse, certain excellent verses now in all
    Irish anthologies; but with him every book was a new planting and
    not a new bud on an old bough. He had I think no peace in himself.
    But my father's chief friend was York Powell, a famous Oxford
    Professor of history, a broad-built, broad-headed, brown-bearded
    man, clothed in heavy blue cloth and looking, but for his glasses
    and the dim sight of a student, like some captain in the merchant
    service. One often passed with pleasure from Todhunter's company
    to that of one who was almost ostentatiously at peace. He cared
    nothing for philosophy, nothing for economics, nothing for the
    policy of nations, for history, as he saw it, was a memory of men
    who were amusing or exciting to think about. He impressed all who
    met him & seemed to some a man of genius, but he had not enough
    ambition to shape his thought, or conviction to give rhythm to his
    style, and remained always a poor writer. I was too full of
    unfinished speculations and premature convictions to value rightly
    his conversation, in-formed by a vast erudition, which would give
    itself to every casual association of speech and company precisely
    because he had neither cause nor design. My father, however, found
    Powell's concrete narrative manner a necessary completion of his
    own; and when I asked him, in a letter many years later, where he
    got his philosophy, replied 'From York Powell' and thereon added,
    no doubt remembering that Powell was without ideas, 'By looking at
    him.' Then there was a good listener, a painter in whose hall hung
    a big picture, painted in his student days, of Ulysses sailing
    home from the Phaeacian court, an orange and a skin of wine at his
    side, blue mountains towering behind; but who lived by drawing
    domestic scenes and lovers' meetings for a weekly magazine that
    had an immense circulation among the imperfectly educated. To
    escape the boredom of work, which he never turned to but under
    pressure of necessity, and usually late at night with the
    publisher's messenger in the hall, he had half filled his studio
    with mechanical toys of his own invention, and perpetually
    increased their number. A model railway train at intervals puffed
    its way along the walls, passing several railway stations and
    signal boxes; and on the floor lay a camp with attacking and
    defending soldiers and a fortification that blew up when the
    attackers fired a pea through a certain window; while a large
    model of a Thames barge hung from the ceiling. Opposite our house
    lived an old artist who worked also for the illustrated papers for
    a living, but painted landscapes for his pleasure, and of him I
    remember nothing except that he had outlived ambition, was a good
    listener, and that my father explained his gaunt appearance by his
    descent from Pocahontas. If all these men were a little like
    becalmed ships, there was certainly one man whose sails were full.
    Three or four doors off, on our side of the road, lived a
    decorative artist in all the naive confidence of popular ideals
    and the public approval. He was our daily comedy. 'I myself and
    Sir Frederick Leighton are the greatest decorative artists of the
    age,' was among his sayings, & a great lych-gate, bought from some
    country church-yard, reared its thatched roof, meant to shelter
    bearers and coffin, above the entrance to his front garden, to
    show that he at any rate knew nothing of discouragement. In this
    fairly numerous company--there were others though no other face
    rises before me--my father and York Powell found listeners for a
    conversation that had no special loyalties, or antagonisms; while
    I could only talk upon set topics, being in the heat of my youth,
    and the topics that filled me with excitement were never spoken
    of.
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