George Fuller, by Sidney Dickinson, 1884, continued.
call him away from his chosen life, and he obeyed its summons without hesitation. Moreover, he loved the country and the family homestead, and may have perceived, also, that the condition of art in Boston and New York was not such as to encourage an original purpose, and that, if he was ever to gain success, he must develop himself in quiet, and aloof from the distracting influences of other methods and men. It is easy to perceive, with the complete record of his life before us, that this experience of labor and thought upon the Deerfield farm, although at first sight forming an hiatus in his career, was really its most pregnant period, and that without it the Fuller who is now so much admired might have been lost to us, and the spirit that appears in his later works never have been awakened. It is, indeed, a spirit that can find no congenial dwelling-place in towns, but makes its home in the fields and on the hillsides, to which the poet-painter, depressed but not cast down by his experience of life, repaired to work and dream. For sixteen years, in the midst of the fairest pastoral valley of New England, he lived in the contemplation of the ideas that had passed across his mind in the quiet of European galleries, and now became more definite impressions. The secret of those years, with their deep, slow current of refined and melancholy thought, is now sealed with him in eternal sleep; but from the works that remain to us as the matured fruits of his life, we may gain some hint of his experiences. It is not to be questioned that he drew from the New-England soil that he tilled, and the air that he breathed, an inspiration which never failed him. The flavor of the quiet valley fills all his canvases. We see in them the spaciousness of its meadows, the inviting slope of its low hills, the calm grandeur of its encircling mountains, the mysterious gloom and wholesome brightness of its changing skies, the atmosphere of history and romance which is its breath and life. Song and story have found many incidents for treatment in this locality. Not far from the farm where Fuller's daily work was done, the tragedy of Bloody Brook was enacted; the fields which he tilled have their legend of Indian ambuscade and massacre; the soil is sown, as with dragon's teeth, with the arrow-heads and battle-axes of many bitter conflicts; even to the ancient house where, in recent years, the painter's summer easel was set up, a former owner was brought home with the red man's bullet in his breast. The menace of midnight attack seems even now to the wanderer in the darkness to burden the air of these mournful meadows, and tradition shows that here were felt the ripples of that tide of superstitious frenzy which flowed from Salem through all the early colonies. No place could have furnished more potent suggestions to the art-idealist than this, and although it did not lead him to paint its tragic history (for no man had less liking for violence and passion than he), it impressed him deeply with its concurrent records of endurance and devotion. Nor did it invite him, as it might have done in the case of a weaker man, into mere description, but having aroused his thought, it submitted itself wholly to the treatment of his strong and original genius. He approached his task with a broad and comprehensive vision, and a loving and inquiring soul. He was not satisfied with the revelation of his eyes alone, but sought earnestly for the secret of
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