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مشاهدة النسخة كاملة : الأدب الإنجليزي

20-03-2008, 04:19 PM
Henry James, OM (April 15, 1843 – February 28, 1916), son of
theologian Henry James Sr., brother of the philosopher and
psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, was an American-born author, one of the founders and leaders of a school of realism in fiction. He spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the encounter of America with Europe. His plots centered on personal relationships, the proper exercise of power in such relationships, and other moral questions. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allowed him to explore the phenomena of consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting


20-03-2008, 04:42 PM
by Henry James
short story


When the porter's wife, who used to answer the house-bell,
announced "A gentleman and a lady, sir," I had, as I often had in
those days--the wish being father to the thought--an immediate
vision of sitters. Sitters my visitors in this case proved to be;
but not in the sense I should have preferred. There was nothing at
first however to indicate that they mightn't have come for a
portrait. The gentleman, a man of fifty, very high and very
straight, with a moustache slightly grizzled and a dark grey
walking-coat admirably fitted, both of which I noted
professionally--I don't mean as a barber or yet as a tailor--would
have struck me as a celebrity if celebrities often were striking.
It was a truth of which I had for some time been conscious that a
figure with a good deal of frontage was, as one might say, almost
never a public institution. A glance at the lady helped to remind
me of this paradoxical law: she also looked too distinguished to
be a "personality." Moreover one would scarcely come across two
variations together.

Neither of the pair immediately spoke--they only prolonged the
preliminary gaze suggesting that each wished to give the other a
chance. They were visibly shy; they stood there letting me take
them in--which, as I afterwards perceived, was the most practical
thing they could have done. In this way their embarrassment served
their cause. I had seen people painfully reluctant to mention that
they desired anything so gross as to be represented on canvas; but
the scruples of my new friends appeared almost insurmountable. Yet
the gentleman might have said "I should like a portrait of my
wife," and the lady might have said "I should like a portrait of my
husband." Perhaps they weren't husband and wife--this naturally
would make the matter more delicate. Perhaps they wished to be
done together--in which case they ought to have brought a third
person to break the news.

"We come from Mr. Rivet," the lady finally said with a dim smile
that had the effect of a moist sponge passed over a "sunk" piece of
painting, as well as of a vague allusion to vanished beauty. She
was as tall and straight, in her degree, as her companion, and with
ten years less to carry. She looked as sad as a woman could look
whose face was not charged with expression; that is her tinted oval
mask showed waste as an exposed surface shows friction. The hand
of time had played over her freely, but to an effect of
elimination. She was slim and stiff, and so well-dressed, in dark
blue cloth, with lappets and pockets and buttons, that it was clear
she employed the same tailor as her husband. The couple had an
indefinable air of prosperous thrift--they evidently got a good
deal of luxury for their money. If I was to be one of their
luxuries it would behove me to consider my terms.

"Ah Claude Rivet recommended me?" I echoed and I added that it was
very kind of him, though I could reflect that, as he only painted
landscape, this wasn't a sacrifice.

The lady looked very hard at the gentleman, and the gentleman
looked round the room. Then staring at the floor a moment and
stroking his moustache, he rested his pleasant eyes on me with the
remark: "He said you were the right one."

"I try to be, when people want to sit."

"Yes, we should like to," said the lady anxiously.

"Do you mean together?"

My visitors exchanged a glance. "If you could do anything with ME
I suppose it would be double," the gentleman stammered.

"Oh yes, there's naturally a higher charge for two figures than for

"We should like to make it pay," the husband confessed.

"That's very good of you," I returned, appreciating so unwonted a
sympathy--for I supposed he meant pay the artist.

A sense of strangeness seemed to dawn on the lady. "We mean for
the illustrations--Mr. Rivet said you might put one in."

"Put in--an illustration?" I was equally confused.

"Sketch her off, you know," said the gentleman, colouring.

It was only then that I understood the service Claude Rivet had
rendered me; he had told them how I worked in black-and-white, for
magazines, for story-books, for sketches of contemporary life, and
consequently had copious employment for models. These things were
true, but it was not less true--I may confess it now; whether
because the aspiration was to lead to everything or to nothing I
leave the reader to guess--that I couldn't get the honours, to say
nothing of the emoluments, of a great painter of portraits out of
my head. My "illustrations" were my pot-boilers; I looked to a
different branch of art--far and away the most interesting it had
always seemed to me--to perpetuate my fame. There was no shame in
looking to it also to make my fortune but that fortune was by so
much further from being made from the moment my visitors wished to
be "done" for nothing. I was disappointed; for in the pictorial
sense I had immediately SEEN them. I had seized their type--I had
already settled what I would do with it. Something that wouldn't
absolutely have pleased them, I afterwards reflected.

"Ah you're--you're--a -?" I began as soon as I had mastered my
surprise. I couldn't bring out the dingy word "models": it seemed
so little to fit the case.

"We haven't had much practice," said the lady.

"We've got to do something, and we've thought that an artist in
your line might perhaps make something of us," her husband threw
off. He further mentioned that they didn't know many artists and
that they had gone first, on the off-chance--he painted views of
course, but sometimes put in figures; perhaps I remembered--to Mr.
Rivet, whom they had met a few years before at a place in Norfolk
where he was sketching.

"We used to sketch a little ourselves," the lady hinted.

"It's very awkward, but we absolutely must do something," her
husband went on.

"Of course we're not so VERY young," she admitted with a wan smile.

With the remark that I might as well know something more about them
the husband had handed me a card extracted from a neat new pocket-
book--their appurtenances were all of the freshest--and inscribed
with the words "Major Monarch." Impressive as these words were
they didn't carry my knowledge much further; but my visitor
presently added: "I've left the army and we've had the misfortune
to lose our money. In fact our means are dreadfully small."

"It's awfully trying--a regular strain,", said Mrs. Monarch.

They evidently wished to be discreet--to take care not to swagger
because they were gentlefolk. I felt them willing to recognise
this as something of a drawback, at the same time that I guessed at
an underlying sense--their consolation in adversity--that they HAD
their points. They certainly had; but these advantages struck me
as preponderantly social; such for instance as would help to make a
drawing-room look well. However, a drawing-room was always, or
ought to be, a picture.

In consequence of his wife's allusion to their age Major Monarch
observed: "Naturally it's more for the figure that we thought of
going in. We can still hold ourselves up." On the instant I saw
that the figure was indeed their strong point. His "naturally"
didn't sound vain, but it lighted up the question. "SHE has the
best one," he continued, nodding at his wife with a pleasant after-
dinner absence of circumlocution. I could only reply, as if we
were in fact sitting over our wine, that this didn't prevent his
own from being very good; which led him in turn to make answer:
"We thought that if you ever have to do people like us we might be
something like it. SHE particularly--for a lady in a book, you

I was so amused by them that, to get more of it, I did my best to
take their point of view; and though it was an embarrassment to
find myself appraising physically, as if they were animals on hire
or useful blacks, a pair whom I should have expected to meet only
in one of the relations in which criticism is tacit, I looked at
Mrs. Monarch judicially enough to be able to exclaim after a moment
with conviction: "Oh yes, a lady in a book!" She was singularly
like a bad illustration.

"We'll stand up, if you like," said the Major; and he raised
himself before me with a really grand air.

I could take his measure at a glance--he was six feet two and a
perfect gentleman. It would have paid any club in process of
formation and in want of a stamp to engage him at a salary to stand
in the principal window. What struck me at once was that in coming
to me they had rather missed their vocation; they could surely have
been turned to better account for advertising purposes. I couldn't
of course see the thing in detail, but I could see them make
somebody's fortune--I don't mean their own. There was something in
them for a waistcoat-maker, an hotel-keeper or a soap-vendor. I
could imagine "We always use it" pinned on their bosoms with the
greatest effect; I had a vision of the brilliancy with which they
would launch a table d'hote.

Mrs. Monarch sat still, not from pride but from shyness, and
presently her husband said to her: "Get up, my dear, and show how
smart you are." She obeyed, but she had no need to get up to show
it. She walked to the end of the studio and then came back
blushing, her fluttered eyes on the partner of her appeal. I was
reminded of an incident I had accidentally had a glimpse of in
Paris--being with a friend there, a dramatist about to produce a
play, when an actress came to him to ask to be entrusted with a
part. She went through her paces before him, walked up and down as
Mrs. Monarch was doing. Mrs. Monarch did it quite as well, but I
abstained from applauding. It was very odd to see such people
apply for such poor pay. She looked as if she had ten thousand a
year. Her husband had used the word that described her: she was
in the London current jargon essentially and typically "smart."
Her figure was, in the same order of ideas, conspicuously and
irreproachably "good." For a woman of her age her waist was
surprisingly small; her elbow moreover had the orthodox crook. She
held her head at the conventional angle, but why did she come to
ME? She ought to have tried on jackets at a big shop. I feared my
visitors were not only destitute but "artistic"--which would be a
great complication. When she sat down again I thanked her,
observing that what a draughtsman most valued in his model was the
faculty of keeping quiet.

"Oh SHE can keep quiet," said Major Monarch. Then he added
jocosely: "I've always kept her quiet."

"I'm not a nasty fidget, am I?" It was going to wring tears from
me, I felt, the way she hid her head, ostrich-like, in the other
broad bosom.

The owner of this expanse addressed his answer to me. "Perhaps it
isn't out of place to mention--because we ought to be quite
business-like, oughtn't we?--that when I married her she was known
as the Beautiful Statue."

"Oh dear!" said Mrs. Monarch ruefully.

"Of course I should want a certain amount of expression," I

"Of COURSE!"--and I had never heard such unanimity.

"And then I suppose you know that you'll get awfully tired."

"Oh we NEVER get tired!" they eagerly cried.

"Have you had any kind of practice?"

They hesitated--they looked at each other. We've been
photographed--IMMENSELY," said Mrs. Monarch.

"She means the fellows have asked us themselves," added the Major.

"I see--because you're so good-looking."

"I don't know what they thought, but they were always after us."

"We always got our photographs for nothing,"

smiled Mrs. Monarch.

"We might have brought some, my dear," her husband remarked.

"I'm not sure we have any left. We've given quantities away," she
explained to me.

"With our autographs and that sort of thing," said the Major.

"Are they to be got in the shops?" I inquired as a harmless

"Oh yes, HERS--they used to be."

"Not now," said Mrs. Monarch with her eyes on the floor.


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18-04-2009, 09:16 PM
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