MR. HOLMAN HUNT AT THE LEICESTER GALLERIES.
An enterprising American syndicate was once formed for manufacturing Stilton cheeses on a large scale; like the pirated Cheddars from similar sources, enjoyed by members of most London clubs. Various farms celebrated for their Stiltons were visited, sums of money being offered for old family recipes. The simple peasants of the district willingly parted with copies of their heirlooms, for a consideration, to the different American agents, who, filled with joy, repaired to their London offices in order to compare notes, and fully persuaded that England was a greener country than ever Constable painted it. What was their mortification on discovering that all the recipes were entirely different; they could not be reconciled even by machinery. So it is with Pre-Raphaelitism; every critic believes that he knows the great secret, and can always quote from one of the brotherhood something in support of his view. At the beginning the brothers meekly accepted Ruskin’s explanation of their existence; his, indeed, was a very convenient, though not entirely accurate, exposition of their collective view, if they can be said to have possessed one. How far Ruskin was out of sympathy with them, indiscreet memoirs have revealed. An artistic idea, or a group of ideas, must always be broken gently to the English people, because the acceptance of them necessitates the swallowing of words. When the golden ladders are let down from heaven by poets, artists, or critics even; or new spirits are hovering in the intellectual empyrean, the patriarch public snoring on its stone pillow wakes up; but he will not wrestle with the angel. He mistakes the ladders for scaffolding, or some temporary embarrassment in the street traffic; he orders their instant removal; he writes angry letters to the papers and invokes the police. After some time Ruskin’s definition of Pre-Raphaelitism was generally accepted, and then the death of Rossetti produced other recipes for the Stilton cheese, Mr. Hall Caine being among the grocers. Whatever the correct definition may be, ungracious and ungrateful though it is to praise the dead at the expense of the living, it has to be recognised that among the remarkable group of painters in which even the minor men were little masters, the greatest artist of them