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CONSTABLE, HENRY—CONSTABLE, JOHN

had been his partner, in conjunction with Sir Walter Scott, bought from the various publishers in whose hands they were, all Scott’s novels which had been issued up to that time, and began the issue of the forty-eight volume edition (1829–1833). The result of its publication was that the debt on Abbotsford was redeemed, and that Cadell bought the estate of Ratho near Edinburgh, which he owned till his death on the 21st of January 1849.

Archibald Constable’s son, Thomas (1812–1881), was appointed in 1839 printer and publisher in Edinburgh to Queen Victoria, and issued, among other notable series, Constable’s Educational Series, and Constable’s Foreign Miscellany. In 1865 his son Archibald became a partner, and when he retired in 1893 the firm continued under the name of T. & A. Constable.

See also Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondents, by his son Thomas Constable (3 vols., 1873). This book contains numerous contemporary notices of Archibald Constable, and vindicates him from the exaggeration of J. G. Lockhart and others.


CONSTABLE, HENRY (1562–1613), English poet, was born in 1562. His father, Sir Robert Constable, was knighted by the earl of Essex in Scotland in 1570, and was the author of a work On the Ordering of a Camp. The poet went to St John’s College, Cambridge, where he took his degree of B.A. in 1580. He was (or now became) a Roman Catholic, and we hear of him next in Paris, whence in 1584 and 1585 he wrote to Walsingham letters which still exist, and which prove Constable to have been in the secret service of the English government. A later correspondence with Essex contains protestations of his loyalty. He was probably still abroad, when, in the autumn of 1592, a London publisher issued Diana, the praises of his Mistress in certain sweet sonnets, by H C., containing 23 poems. A reissue of this pamphlet in 1594 (misprinted 1584) was greatly enlarged, not merely by more sonnets which may or may not be Constable’s, but by eight poems which were certainly the work of Sir Philip Sidney. Published a few weeks after the Delia of Daniel, the original Diana of 1592 claims a very early place in the evolution of the Elizabethan sonnet. In 1598 Constable was sent on a mission from the Pope to Scotland, the idea being that James VI. was to be supported in his claim to the English succession on condition of his setting English Romanists free from the existing disabilities. Constable’s mission came to nothing, and he entered the service of the king of France. Later he asked for permission to return to England, but it was refused. In consequence of a surreptitious excursion to London, he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower in 1604. After a manhood spent in almost continuous exile, Henry Constable died at Liége on the 9th of October 1613. The Diana was the only work printed in the poet’s life-time; it was augmented from MS. sources by H. J. Todd, in 1813. His Spiritual Sonnets first appeared in 1815, edited by Thomas Park. Almost the only known pieces by Constable which are not sonnets are the song of “Diaphenia,” and the beautiful pastoral canzone on “Venus and Adonis,” contained in the England’s Helicon of 1600. In 1594 he prefixed four sonnets, addressed to the soul of Sir Philip Sidney, to that writer’s Apology of Poetry. A prose work of devotion, The Catholic Moderator (1623), has been attributed to Constable. Who Diana was has never been determined, but it has been conjectured that she may have been Mary, countess of Shrewsbury, who was a distant cousin of the poet. The body of Constable’s writing is so small, and its authenticity so little supported by evidence, that it is rash to give a very definite opinion as to its character. But it is evident, from his undoubted productions, that he was much under the influence of the French poets of his time, particularly of Desportes, as well as of Petrarch and Sidney. That Shakespeare was acquainted with Constable’s poetry and admired it seems to be certain, and that he borrowed from it, “gives it,” as Mr Sidney Lee has said, “its most lasting interest.” In the arrangement of his rhymes, Constable usually keeps closer to the Petrarchan model than Daniel and the other contemporary sonneteers are accustomed to do.  (E. G.) 


CONSTABLE, JOHN (1776–1837), English landscape painter, was born at East Bergholt in Suffolk on the 11th of June 1776. His father was a man of some property, including water-mills at Dedham and Flatford, and two windmills, in which John, the second son, was set to work at the age of seventeen, after leaving Dedham grammar school. From boyhood he was devoted to painting, which he studied in his spare time in company with John Dunthorne, a local plumber and glazier. While working thus he made the acquaintance of Sir George Beaumont, a mediocre painter but a keen patron of the arts, and was inspired by the sight of Claude’s “Hagar and Ishmael” and by some drawings of Girtin which Sir George possessed. His passion for art increasing, he was allowed by his father to visit London in 1795 to consult the landscape-painter Joseph Farington, R. A. (1747–1821), who recognized his originality and gave him some technical hints. He also made the acquaintance of the engraver J. T. Smith, who taught him etching, and corresponded with him during the next few years, which were spent partly in London and partly in Suffolk. In 1797 he was recalled to work in his father’s counting-house at Bergholt, and it was not till February 1799 that he definitely adopted the profession of painting, and became a student at the Royal Academy. The few existing works of this period are heavy, clumsy and amateurish. Recognizing their faults, Constable worked hard at copying old masters “to acquire execution.” The remedy was effective, for his sketches on a tour in Derbyshire in 1801 show considerable freshness and accomplishment. In 1802 he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and was much helped and encouraged by the president, Benjamin West, who did him a further service by preventing him from accepting a drawing-mastership (offered by Archdeacon Fisher, of Salisbury), and thereby greatly stimulating his efforts. The manner of West appears strongly in the altarpiece painted by Constable for Brantham church in 1804, but Gainsborough, the Dutch masters and Girtin are the predominant influences upon his landscape, especially Girtin in the year 1805, and in 1806, when he visited the Lake District. From 1806 to 1809 Constable was frequently engaged in painting portraits or in copying portraits by Reynolds and Hoppner. The effect on his landscape was great. He learned how to construct an oil painting, and the efforts of the next few years were devoted to combining this knowledge with his innate love of the fresh colour of nature.

With the year 1811 began a critical period. He exhibited a large view of Dedham Vale, in which the characteristic features of his art appear for the first time almost fully developed, and he became attached to Miss Maria Bicknell. His suit was opposed by the lady’s relatives, and Constable’s apparently hopeless prospects drove him again to portrait-painting, in which he acquired considerable skill. It was not till the death of his father in 1816 that he was able to marry and settle in No. 1 Keppel Street, Russell Square, where a succession of works now well known were painted: “Flatford Mill” (1817), “A Cottage in a Cornfield,” and in 1819 “The White Horse,” which was bought by his great friend Archdeacon Fisher for £105, as was the “Stratford Mill” of 1820. In 1819 two legacies each of £4000 diminished his domestic anxieties, and his talent was recognized by his election in November to the associateship of the Royal Academy. The series of important works was continued by “The Haywain” (1821), “A View on the Stour” (1822), “Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Garden” (1823), and “The Lock” (1824). This last year was a memorable one. “The Haywain” was sold to a Frenchman, was exhibited at the Louvre, and, after creating a profound sensation among French artists, was awarded a gold medal. In the following year “The White Horse” won a similar distinction at Lille. In 1825 he exhibited “The Leaping Horse” (perhaps his masterpiece), in 1826 “The Cornfield,” in 1827 “The Marine Parade and Chain Pier, Brighton,” and in 1828 “Dedham Vale.”

In 1822 Constable had taken Farington’s house, 35 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, but his wife’s failing health made him turn his attention to Hampstead, and after temporary occupation first of 2 Lower Terrace and then of a house on Downshire Hill, he took No. 6 Well Walk, in 1827, letting the greater part of his London house. In 1828 his financial position was made