Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys: Part 3

Burne-Jones describes in the below excerpt from a letter Georgie put in her Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, what it was like as a young man to wake up in the morning among his vagabond friends. I love this moment described in Burne-Jones' own words. And there are so many more moments like this in the memorials of these great artists. I'll be sharing a few more in a later post.

I have from now till breakfast to write you in, and I have no idea what now is, for after the most elaborate directions for being called early, which were strictly attended to, I turned over and dozed away like a pig, and now I expect every moment my usual morning tormentors, Rossetti and Pollen, who come at about 8 o’clock to insult me—laugh at me, my dear—point the finger of scorn at me, address me by opprobrious names and finally tear blankets and counterpanes and mattresses and all the other things that cover me, from my enfeebled grasp, and so leave me, to do the same to Topsy. I’ve done them this time; when they come in presently with no knocking at the door, they will see Virtue asserted in the form of a bold and upright figure at the dressing-table, who will slowly turn upon them a look of calm but significant defiance with one eye, while with the other he expresses similar feelings by a contumelious wink.”

I think one thing I love about the Pre-Raphaelite circle of friends is their continuous joke of making things out to be more formal than they should be. The name "The Firm" began for their works back when they were living in relative poverty, to joke that their efforts were more serious than they were. Of course, as we all know, their efforts were indeed eventually more serious and professional, but their mock formality amuses me greatly. Burne-Jones description of a simple morning hazing ritual reads more like the triumphant victory of a knight vanquishing his foes.


Margaret said...

Another great story!

Grace said...

I just love to picture Ned turning around slowly and victoriously, then winking solemnly :)