The artistic tastes of the Princess, the lofty range of her understanding, her liberality, and the sterling benevolence of her mind all combined to engender a coldness and lack of sympathy between herself and the persons composing the Court.
In the heart of the Princess dwelt a deep religious faith, such as becomes a noble, womanly heart. Nevertheless, her ardent mind sought to penetrate every mystery, so she was often accused of being a doubter—when the reverse was really true.
—Ary Scheffer to His Brother Arnola
The artistic evolution of Ary Scheffer was brought about mainly through the influence of three women. In the love of these women he was bathed, nourished and refreshed; their approbation gave direction to his efforts; for them he lived and worked; while a fourth woman, by her inability to comprehend the necessities of such a genius, clipped his wings, so that he fell to earth and his feet mired in the clay.
The first factor in the evolution of Scheffer, in point of both time and importance, was his mother. She was the flint upon which he tried his steel: his teacher, adviser, critic, friend. She was a singularly strong and capable woman, seemingly slight and fragile, but with a deal of whipcord, sinewy strength in both her physical and mental fiber.
No one can study the lives of eminent artists without being impressed with the fact that the artist is essentially the child of his mother. The sympathy demanded to hold a clear, mental conception—the imagination that sees the whole, even when the first straight line is made—is the gift of mother to son. She gives him of her spirit, and he is heir to her love of color, her desire for harmony and her hunger for sympathy. These, plus his masculine strength, may allow him to accomplish that which was to her only a dream.
If a mother is satisfied with her surroundings, happy in her environment, and therefore without "a noble discontent," her children will probably be quite willing to have a good time on the "unearned increment" that is their material portion. Her virtue and passive excellence die with her, and she leaves a brood of mediocrities.
Were this miraculous scheme of adjustment lacking in the Eternal Plan, wealth, achievement and talent could be passed along in a direct line and the good things of earth be corraled by a single family.
But Nature knows no law of entail; she does, however, have her Law of Compensation, and this is the law which holds in order the balance of things. If a man accumulates a vast fortune, he probably also breeds spendthrifts who speedily distribute his riches; if he has great talent, the talent dies with him, for he only inspires those who are not of his blood; and if a woman is deprived of the environment for which her soul yearns, quite often her children adjust the average by working out an answer to her prayer.
When twenty-eight years of age we find Madame Scheffer a widow, with three sons: by name, Ariel, Henri and Arnold.
Madame Scheffer had a little money—not much, but enough to afford her a small, living income.
She might have married again, or she could have kept her little "dot" intact and added interest to principal by going and living with kinsmen who were quite willing to care for her and adopt her children.
But no; she decided to leave the sleepy little Dutch village where they lived in Holland, and go down to Paris.
And so she thrust her frail bark boldly out upon the tide, hoping and expecting that somewhere and sometime the Friendly Islands would be reached. She would spend her last sou in educating her boys, and she knew, she said, that when that was gone, God would give them the power and inclination to care for her and provide for themselves. In short, she tumbled her whole basket of bread upon the waters, fully confident that it would come back buttered. Her object in moving to Paris was that her boys could acquire French, the language of learning, and also that they might be taught art.
And so they moved to the great, strange world of Paris—Paris the gay, Paris the magnificent, Paris that laughs and leers and sees men and women go down to death, and still laughs on.
They lived, away up and up in a tenement-house, in two little rooms. There was no servant, and the boys took hold cheerfully to do the housekeeping, for the mother wasn't so very strong.
The first thing was to acquire the French language, and if you live in Paris the task is easy. You just have to—that's all.
Madame Scheffer was an artist of some little local repute in the village where they had lived, and she taught her boys the rudiments of drawing.
Ariel was always called Ary. When he grew to manhood he adopted this pet name his mother had playfully given him. He used to call her "Little Mother." Shortly after reaching Paris, Ary was placed in the studio of M. Guerin. Arnold showed a liking for the Oriental languages, and was therefore allowed to follow the bent of his mind. Henry waxed fat on the crumbs of learning that Ary brought home.
And so they lived and worked and studied; very happy, with only now and then twinges of fear for the future, for it would look a little black at times, do all they could to laugh away the clouds. It was a little democracy of four, with high hopes and lofty ideals. Mutual tasks and mutual hardships bound them together in a love that was as strong as it was tender and sweet.
Two years of Paris life had gone by, and the little fund that had not been augmented by a single franc in way of income had dwindled sadly.
In six months it was gone.
They were penniless.
The mother sold her wedding-ring and the brooch her husband had given her before they were married.
Then the furniture went to the pawnbroker's, piece by piece.
One day Ary came bounding up the stairs, three steps at a time. He burst into the room and tossed into his mother's lap fifty francs.
When he got his breath he explained that he had sold his first picture.
Ary, the elder boy, was eighteen; Henri, the younger, was thirteen. "It was just like a play, you see," said Ary Scheffer, long years afterward. "When things get desperate enough they have to mend—they must. The pictures I painted were pretty bad, but I really believe they were equal to many that commanded large prices, and I succeeded in bringing a few buyers around to my views. Genius may starve in a garret, if alone; but the genius that would let its best friends starve, too, being too modest to press its claims, is a little lacking somewhere."
Young Scheffer worked away at any subject he thought would sell. He painted just as his teacher, Guerin, told him, and Guerin painted just like his idol, David, or as nearly as he could.
Art had gotten into a fixed groove; laws had been laid down as to what was classic and what not. Conservatism was at the helm.
Art, literature, philosophy, science, even religion, have their periods of infancy, youth, manhood and decay. And there comes a time to every school, and every sect, when it ceases to progress. When it says, "There now, this is perfection, and he who seeks to improve on it is anathema," it is dead, and should be buried. But schools and sects and creeds die hard. Creeds never can be changed: they simply become obsolete and are forgotten; they turn to dust and are blown away on the free winds of heaven.
The art of the great David had passed into the hands of imitators. It had become a thing of metes and bounds and measurements and geometric theorems. Its colors were made by mixing this with that according to certain fixed formulas.
About this time a young playwright by the name of Victor Hugo was making much din, and the classics as a consequence were making mighty dole and endeavoring to hiss him down. The Censor had forbidden a certain drama of Hugo's to be played until it had been cut and trimmed and filed and polished, and made just like all other plays.
Victor Hugo was the acknowledged leader of the spirit of protest; in lyric music Rossini led; and Delacroix raised the standard of revolt in painting. With this new school, which called itself "Romanticism," Madame Scheffer and her sons sincerely sympathized. The term "Romanticism" of itself means little, or nothing, or everything, but the thing itself is the eternal plea for the right of the individual—a cry for the privilege to live your own life and express the truth as you feel it, all in your own way. It is a revolution that has come a thousand times, and must and will come again and again. When custom gets greater than man it must be broken. The ankylosis of artistic smugness is no new thing. In heart and taste and ambition Ary and the Little Mother were one. Madame Scheffer rejoiced in the revolt she saw in the air against the old and outgrown. She was a Republican in all her opinions and ideals; and these feelings she shared with her boys. They discussed politics and art and religion over the teacups; and this brave and gentle woman kept intellectual pace with her sons, who in merry frolic often carried her about in their arms. Only yesterday, it seemed to her, she had carried them, and felt upon her face the soft caress of baby hands. And now one of these sons stood a foot higher than she.
Ary Scheffer was tall, slender, with a thoughtful, handsome face. The habit of close study, and the early realization of responsibilities had hastened his maturity. Necessity had sharpened his business sense and given a practical side to his nature, so he deferred enough to the old world to secure from it the living that is every man's due.
His pictures sold—sold for all they were worth. The prices were not large, but there was enough money so that the gaunt wolf that once scratched and sniffed at the door was no longer to be seen nor heard.
They had all they needed. The Little Mother was the banker, and we may safely guess that nothing was wasted.
Pupils now came to Ary Scheffer—dull fellows from the schools, who wished to be coached. Sitters in search of good portraits, cheap for cash, occasionally climbed the stairway. The Little Mother dusted about and fixed up the studio so as to make it look prosperous.
One fine lady came in a carriage to sit for her portrait. She gave her wraps into the keeping of the Little Mother at the door, with an admonitory, "Take care of these, mind you, or I'll report you to your master."
The Little Mother bowed low and promised.
That night when she told at the supper-table how the fine lady had mistaken her for a servant, Henri said, "Well, just charge the fine lady fifty francs extra in the bill for that."
But Ary would not consent to let the blunder go so cheaply. When the fine lady came for her next sitting, the Little Mother was called and advised with at length as to pose and color-scheme.
Neither was the advising sham, for Ary deferred to his mother's judgment in many ways, and no important step was taken without her approval. They were more like lovers than mother and son. His treatment of her was more than affectionate—it was courteous and deferential, after the manner of men who had ancestors who were knights of the olden time.
The desire to sit on a divan and be waited upon is the distinguishing feature of the heartless mistress of fortune. Like the jeweled necklace and bands of gold at wrist and waist, which symbol a time when slavery was rife and these gauds had a practical meaning, so does the woman who in bringing men to her feet by beck and nod tell of animality too coarse for speech.
But the woman with the great, tender and loving heart gives her all and asks no idolatrous homage. Her delight is in serving, and willingly and more than willingly, for without thought she breaks the vase of precious ointment and wipes the feet of the beloved with the hairs of her head.
Madame Scheffer sought in all ways to serve her sons, and so we find there was always a gentle rivalry between Ary and his mother as to who could love most.
She kept his studio in order, cleaned his brushes and prepared the canvas. In the middle of the forenoon she would enter his workroom with tea and toast or other little delicacies that he liked, and putting the tray down, would kiss the forehead of the busy worker and gently tiptoe out.
When the day's work was done she intelligently criticized and encouraged; and often she would copy the picture herself and show how it could be changed for the better here or there.
And all this fine, frank, loving companionship so filled Ary's heart that he put far behind him all thought of a love for another with its closer tie. He lived and worked for the Little Mother. They were very happy, for they were succeeding. They had met the great, cruel world, the world of Paris that romps and dances and laughs, and sees struggling and sad-eyed women and men go down to their death, and still laughs on; they had met the world in fair fight and they had won.
The Little Mother had given all for Ary; on his genius and ability she had staked her fortune and her life.
And now, although he was not twenty-one, she saw all that she had given in perfect faith, coming back with interest ten times compounded.
The art world of Paris had both recognized and acknowledged the genius of her boy—with that she was content.
In the year Eighteen Hundred Eighteen, we find General Lafayette writing to Lady Morgan in reference to a proposed visit to the Chateau de la Grange. He says: "I do not think you will find it dull here. Among others of our household is a talented young painter by the name of Scheffer."
Later, Lady Morgan writes to friends in England from La Grange, "Ary Scheffer, a talented artist, is a member of our company here at the chateau. He is quite young, but is already a person of note. He is making a portrait of the General, and giving lessons to the young ladies in drawing, and I, too, am availing myself of his tutorship."
Through his strong Republican tendencies Scheffer had very naturally drifted into the company of those who knew Lafayette. The artist knew the history of the great man and was familiar with his American career. Scheffer was interested in America, for the radicals with whom he associated were well aware that there might come a time when they would have to seek hastily some hospitable clime where to think was not a crime. And indeed, it is but natural that those with a penchant for heresy should locate a friendly shore, just as professional criminals study the extradition laws.
Lafayette, Franklin and Washington had long been to Scheffer a trinity of familiar names, and when an opportunity came to be introduced to the great Franco-American patriot he gladly took advantage of it.
Lafayette was sixty-one; Scheffer was twenty-three, but there at once sprang up a warm friendship between them. Not long after their first meeting Scheffer was invited to come to La Grange and make it his home as long as he cared to.
The Little Mother urged the acceptance of such an invitation. To associate for a time with the aristocratic world would give the young man an insight into society and broaden his horizon.
In the family of Lafayette, Scheffer mingled on an equality with the guests. His conversation was earnest, serious and elevated; and his manner so gracious and courtly that he won the respect of all he met. Lady Morgan intimates that his simplicity of manner tempted the young ladies who were members of his class in drawing to cut various innocent capers in his presence, and indulge in sly jokes which never would have been perpetrated had the tutor been more of a man of the world.
It has happened more than once that men of the highest spirituality have had small respect for religion, as it is popularly manifested. The machinery of religion and religion itself are things that are often widely separated; and Ary Scheffer was too high-minded and noble to worship the letter and relinquish the spirit that maketh alive. He was of that type that often goes through the world scourged by a yearning for peace, and like the dove sent out from the Ark finding no place to rest. All about he beheld greed, selfishness, hypocrisy and pretense. He longed for simplicity and absolute honesty, and was met by craft and diplomacy. He asked for religion, and was given a creed.
And so into the hearts of such as he there comes creeping a spirit of revolt. Instead of accepting this topsy-turvy old world and making the best of it, their eyes are fixed upon an ideal that Heaven alone can realize.
The home of Lafayette was the rendezvous of the discontented. Art, literature, politics and religion were all represented in the parlors of La Grange. Where Franklin had discoursed Poor Richard philosophy, there now gathered each Sunday night a company in which "the greatest of the Americans" would have delighted. For this company, no question was too sacred for frank and free discussion.
It was at the home of Lafayette that Scheffer met Augustin Thierry, and between these two there grew a friendship that only death was to divide.
But there was one other person Scheffer met at La Grange who was to exercise a profound influence on his life: this was the Duchess of Orleans. The quiet manliness of the young artist impressed the future Queen of France, and he was invited to Neuilly to copy certain portraits.
In the year Eighteen Hundred Twenty-six, we find Scheffer regularly established in the household of the Duke and Duchess of Orleans, with commissions to paint portraits of all the members of the family, and incidentally to give lessons in drawing and mathematics to the Princess Marie.
The Princess had been a sore trial to her parents, in that she had failed to fit into the conventional ways of polite society. Once she had shocked all Neuilly by donning man's attire and riding horseback astride. A worthy priest who had been her tutor had found her tongue too sharp for his comfort, and had resigned his post in dismay. The Princess argued religion with the Bishop and discussed politics with visitors in such a radical way that her father often turned pale. For the diversions of society she had a profound contempt that did not fail to manifest itself in sharp sallies against the smug hypocrisy of the times. She had read widely, knew history, was familiar with the poets, and had dived into the classics to a degree equaled by few women in France. So keen was her wit that, when pompous dignitaries dined at Neuilly, her father and mother perspired freely, not knowing what was coming next. In her character were traits that surely did not belie her Louis Quatorze ancestry.
And yet this father and mother had a certain secret pride in the accomplishments of their daughter. Parents always do. Her independence sort of kept them vibrating between ecstasies of joy and chills of fear.
The Princess was plain in feature but finely formed, and had attracted the favorable attention of various worthy young men, but no man had ever dared to make love to her except by post or proxy. Several lovers had pressed their claims, making appeal through her father; but the Duke of Orleans, strong as he was, never had cared to intimate to his daughter a suggestion as to whom she should wed. Love to her was a high and holy sacrament, and a marriage of convenience or diplomacy was to the mind of the Princess immoral and abhorrent.
The father knew her views and respected them.
But happiness is not a matter of intellect. And in spite of her brilliant, daring mind the Princess of Orleans was fretting her soul out against the bars of environment: she lacked employment; she longed to do, to act, to be.
She had ambitions in the line of art, and believed she had talent that was worth cultivating.
And so it was that Ary Scheffer, the acknowledged man of talent, was invited to Neuilly.
He was twenty-nine years of age; the Princess was twenty-five.
The ennui of unused powers and corroding heart-hunger had made the Princess old before her time. Scheffer's fight with adversity had long before robbed him of his youth.
These two eyed each other curiously.
The gentle, mild-voiced artist knew his place and did not presume on terms of equality with the Princess who traced a direct pedigree to Louis the Great. He thought to wait and allow her gradually to show her quality.
She tried her caustic wit upon him, and he looked at her out of mild blue eyes and made no reply. He had no intention of competing with her on her own preserve; and he had a pride in his profession that equaled her pride of birth.
He looked at her—just looked at her in silence. And this spoilt child, before whom all others quailed, turned scarlet, stammered and made apology.
In good sooth, she had played tierce and thrust with every man she had met, and had come off without a scar; but here was a man of pride and poise, and yet far beneath her in a social way, and he had rebuked her haughty spirit by a simple look.
A London lawyer has recently put in a defense for wife-beating, on the grounds that there are women who should be chastised for their own good. I do not go quite this far, but from the time Scheffer rebuked the Princess of Orleans by refusing to reply to her saucy tongue there was a perfect understanding between them. The young woman listened respectfully if he spoke, and when he painted followed his work with eager eyes.
At last she had met one who was not intent on truckling for place and pelf. His ideals were as high and excellent as her own—his mind more sincere. Life was more to him than to her, because he was working his energies up into art, and she was only allowing her powers to rust.
She followed him dumbly, devotedly.
He wished to treat her as an honored pupil and with the deference that was her due, but she insisted that they should study and work as equals.
Instead of giving the young woman lessons to learn, they studied together. Her task as pupil was to read to him two hours daily as he worked, and things she did not fully understand he explained.
The Princess made small progress as a painter, probably because her teacher was so much beyond her that she was discouraged at thought of equaling him; and feeling that in so many other ways they were equals, she lost heart in trying to follow him in this.
At length, weary of attempts at indifferent drawing, the Princess begged her tutor to suggest some occupation for her where they could start afresh and work out problems together. Scheffer suggested modeling in clay, and the subject was taken up with avidity.
The Princess developed a regular passion for the work, and group after group was done. Among other figures she attempted was an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc.
This work was cast in bronze and now occupies an honored place at Versailles.
So thoroughly did the young woman enter into the spirit of sculpture that she soon surpassed Scheffer in this particular line; but to him she gave all credit.
Her success was a delight to her parents, who saw with relief that the carping spirit of cynicism was gone from her mind, and instead had come a kindly graciousness that won all hearts.
In the ability to think and act with independence there was something decidedly masculine in the spirit of the Princess Marie; and, as I have shown, Scheffer possessed a sympathy and gentleness that was essentially feminine (which is quite a different thing from being effeminate). These two souls complemented each other, and their thoughts being fixed on similar ideals, how can we wonder that a very firm affection blossomed into being?
But the secret of their love has never been written, and base would be the pen that would attempt to picture it in detail.
Take off thy shoes, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
The Duke and Duchess admired Scheffer, but never quite forgot that he was in their employ, and all their attempts to treat him as an equal revealed the effort. It was as though they had said: "You are lowly bred, and work with your hands, and receive a weekly wage, but these things are nothing to us. We will not think less of you, for see, do we not invite you to our board?"
The aristocracy of birth is very seldom willing to acknowledge the aristocracy of brain. And the man of brains, if lowly born, has a mild indifference, at least, for all the gilt and gaud of royalty. The Prince of Wales does not recognize the nobility of Israel Zangwill; and Israel Zangwill asks in bored indifference, "Who—who is this man you call H. R. H.?"
But love is greater than man-made titles, and when was there ever a difference in station able to separate hearts that throbbed only for each other?
Possibly even the stern old Duke might have relented and given his blessing were it not that events of mighty importance came seething across the face of France, and duties to his country outweighed the duties to his daughter.
On the Thirtieth day of July, Eighteen Hundred Thirty, Ary Scheffer was at the house of his mother in Paris. A hurried knock came at the door, and Ary answered it in person. There on the threshold stood M. Thiers.
"Oh, Scheffer! it is you, how fortunate! you are a member of the household of Orleans, and I have a most important message for the Duke. You must go with me and deliver it to him."
"I see," said Scheffer; "the Convention has named the Duke as King of France, and we are to notify him."
"Exactly so," said Thiers.
Horses were at the door: they mounted and rode away. The streets were barricaded, so carriages were out of the question, but Scheffer and Thiers leaped the barricades, and after several minor mishaps found themselves safely out of Paris.
The call was not entirely unexpected on the part of the Duke. Scheffer addressed him as "Le Roi," and this told all.
The Duke hesitated, but finally decided to accept the mission, fraught with such mighty import. He started in disguise for Paris that night on foot.
At the back entrance of the Palais Royal stood Ary Scheffer, and saw Louis Philippe mingle with the crowd, unrecognized—then pass into the palace—this palace that was his birthplace.
The next day Louis appeared with Lafayette on a balcony of the Hotel de Ville, and these two embraced each other in sight of the multitude.
It is not for me to write a history of those troublous times, but suffice it to say that the "Citizen King" ruled France probably as well as any other man could have done. His task was a most difficult one, for he had to be both king and citizen—to please Royalist and Populist alike.
This sudden turn of the political kaleidoscope was a pivotal point in the life of Ary Scheffer. So long as the Duke of Orleans was a simple country gentleman, Scheffer was the intimate friend of the family, but how could the King of France admit into his family circle a mere low-born painter? Certainly not they who are descended from kings!
Orders were issued by the government to Scheffer to paint certain pictures, and vouchers reached him from official sources, but he was made to understand that friendship with the household of a king was not for him. Possibly he had been too much mixed up with the people in a political way! The favor of the populace is a thing monarchs jealously note, as mariners on a lee shore watch the wind.
The father of Louis Philippe was descended from a brother of Louis the Great, while on his mother's side he was a direct descendant of the great monarch and Madame de Montespan. Such an inbred claim to royalty was something of which to boast, but at the same time Louis Philippe was painfully sensitive as to the blot on the 'scutcheon.
The Princess Marie knew the slender tenure by which her father held his place, and although her heart was wrung by the separation from her lover, she was loyal to duty as she saw it, and made no sign that might embarrass the Citizen King.
Arnold and Henri Scheffer were each married, and working out careers. Ary and his mother lived together, loving and devoted. And into the keeping of this mother had come a grandchild—a beautiful girl-baby. They called her name Cornelie. About the mother of Cornelie the grandmother was not curious. It was enough to know that the child was the child of her son, and upon the babe she lavished all the loving tenderness of her great, welling, mother heart. She had no words but those of gentleness and love for the son that had brought this charge to her. And did she guess that this child would be the sustaining prop for her son when she, herself, was gone?
All this time the poor Princess Marie was practically a prisoner in the great palace, wearing out her heart, a slave to what she considered duty. She grew ill, and all efforts of her physicians to arouse her from her melancholy were in vain.
Her death was a severe shock to poor Scheffer. For some months friends feared for his sanity, for he would only busy his brush with scenes from Faust, or religious subjects that bordered on morbidity. Again and again he painted "Marguerite in Prison," "Marguerite Waiting," "Marguerite in Paradise" and "Mignon." Into all of his work he infused that depth of tenderness which has given the critics their cue for accusing him of "sentimentality gone mad." And in fact no one can look upon any of the works of Scheffer, done after Eighteen Hundred Thirty, without being profoundly impressed with the brooding sadness that covers all as with a garment.
From the time he met the Princess of Orleans there came a decided evolution in his art; but it was not until she had passed away that one could pick out an unsigned canvas and say positively, "This is Scheffer's!"
In all his work you see that look of soul, and in his best you behold a use of the blue background that rivals the blue of heaven. No other painter that I can recall has gotten such effects from colors so simple.
But Scheffer's life was not all sadness. For even when the Little Mother had passed away, Ary Scheffer wrote calmly to his friend August Thierry: "I yet have my daughter Cornelie, and were it not for her I fear my work would be a thing of the past; but with her I still feel that God exists. My life is filled with love and light."
It was a curious circumstance that Ary Scheffer, who conducted the Citizen King to Paris, was to lead him away.
Scheffer was a Captain in the National Guard, and when the stormy times of Eighteen Hundred Forty-eight came, he put away his brushes, locked his studio, and joined his regiment.
Louis Philippe had begun as a "citizen"—one of the people—and following the usual course had developed into a monarch with a monarch's indifference to the good of the individual.
The people clamored for a republic, and agitation soon developed into revolution. On the morning of the Twenty-fourth of February, Eighteen Hundred Forty-eight, Scheffer met the son of Lafayette, who was also an officer in the National Guard.
"How curious," said Lafayette, "that we should be protecting a King for whom we have so little respect!"
"Still, we will do our duty," answered Scheffer.
They made their way to the Tuileries, and posted themselves on the terrace beneath the windows of the King's private apartments. As they sat on the steps in the wan light of breaking day. Scheffer heard some one softly calling his name. He listened and the call was repeated.
"Who wants me?" answered Scheffer.
"'Tis I, the Queen!" came the answer.
Scheffer looked up and at the lattice of the window saw the white face of the woman he had known so well and intimately for a full score of years.
The terror of the occasion did away with all courtly etiquette.
"Who is with you?" asked the Queen.
"Only Lafayette," was the answer.
"Come in at once, both of you. The King has abdicated and you must conduct us to a place of safety."
Scheffer and his companion ran up the steps, the Queen unbolted the door with her own hands, and they entered. Inside the hallway they found Louis Philippe dressed as for a journey, with no sign of kingly trappings. With them were their sons and several grandchildren.
They filed out of the palace, through the garden, and into the Place de la Concorde—that spot of ghastly memories.
The King looked about nervously. Some of the mob recognized him.
Scheffer concluded that a bold way was the best, and stepping ahead of Louis Philippe, called in a voice of authority, "Make way—make way for the King!"
The crowd parted dumb with incredulity at the strange sight.
By the fountain in the square stood a public carriage, and into this shabby vehicle of the night the royal passengers were packed.
Dumas, who had followed the procession, mounted the box.
Scheffer gave a quick whispered order to the driver, closed the door with a slam, lifted his hat, and the vehicle rumbled away towards the Quai.
When Scheffer got back to the Tuileries the mob had broken in the iron gates at the front of the gardens, and was surging through the palace in wild disorder.
Scheffer hastened home to tell Cornelie the news of the night.
When the Little Mother died, a daughter of Henri Scheffer came to join the household of Ary Scheffer. The name of this niece was also Cornelie.
The fact of there being two young women in the house by one name has led to confusion among the biographers. And thus it happens that at least four encyclopedias record that Ernest Renan married the daughter of Ary Scheffer. Renan married the niece, and the fact that they named their first child Ary helped, possibly, to confirm the error of the biographers.
Scheffer's life was devoted to providing for and educating these young women. He himself gave them lessons in the languages, in music, painting and sculpture. The daughter was a handsome girl; and in point of intellect kept her artist-father very busy to keep one lesson in advance. Together they painted and modeled in clay, and the happiness that came to Scheffer as he saw her powers unfold was the sweetest experience he had ever known.
The coldness between himself and the King had increased. But Louis Philippe did not forget him, for commissions came, one after another, for work to cover the walls of the palace at Versailles. With the Queen his relations were friendly—even intimate. Several times she came to his house. Her interest in Cornelie was tender and strong, and when Scheffer painted a "Mignon" and took Cornelie for a model, the Queen insisted on having the picture and paying her own price—a figure quite beyond what the artist asked.
This picture, which represents so vividly the profound pathos and depth of soul which Ary Scheffer could put upon a canvas, can now be seen in the Louvre. But the best collection of Scheffer's portraits and historical pictures is at Versailles.
In the gentle companionship of his beloved daughter, Scheffer found the meed of joy that was his due. With her he lived over the days that had gone forever, and those other days that might have been.
And when the inevitable came and this daughter loved a worthy and suitable young man, Scheffer bowed his head, and fighting hard to keep back the tears gave the pair his blessing.
The marriage of Doctor Marjolin and Cornelie Scheffer was a happy mating; and both honored the gifted father and ministered to him in every kindly way.
But so susceptible was Scheffer's nature that when his daughter had given her whole heart to another, the fine edge of his art was dulled and blunted. He painted through habit, and the work had merit, but only at rare intervals was there in it that undefinable something which all can recognize, but none analyze, that stamps the product as great art.
When, in the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty, Scheffer married, it was the death of his art.
The artist does business on a very small margin of inspiration. Do you understand me? The man of genius is not a genius all the time. Usually he is only a very ordinary individual. There may be days or weeks that are fallow, and sometimes even years that are years of famine. He can not conquer the mood of depression that is holding him to earth.
But some day the clouds suddenly clear away, the sun bursts out, and the soul of the man is alive with divine fervor. Sublime thoughts crowd upon him, great waves of emotion sweep over his soul, and as Webster said of his Hayne speech, "The air was full of reasons, and all I had to do was to reach up and seize them."
All great music and all deathless poems are written in a fever of ecstasy; all paintings that move men to tears are painted in tears.
But it is easy to break in upon the sublime mood and drag the genius back to earth. Certain country cousins who occasionally visited the family of Ralph Waldo Emerson cut all mental work off short; the philosopher laid down his pen when the cousins came a-cousining and literally took to the woods. An uncongenial caller would instantly unhorse Carlyle, and Tennyson had a hatred of all lion-hunters—not merely because they were lion-hunters, but because they broke in upon his paradise and snapped the thread of inspiration.
Mrs. Grote tells us that Scheffer's wife was intelligent and devoted—in fact, she was too devoted. She would bring her sewing and watch the artist at his work. If the great man grew oblivious of her presence she gently chided him for it; she was jealous of his brothers, jealous of his daughter, even jealous of his art. She insisted not only that he should love her, but demanded that he should love nothing else. And yet all the time she was putting forth violent efforts to make him happy. As a result she put him in a mood where he loved nothing and nobody. She clipped his wings, and instead of a soaring genius we find a whimsical, commonplace man with occupation gone.
Wives demand the society of their husbands as their lawful right, and I suppose it is expecting too much to suppose that any woman, short of a saint, could fit into the bachelor ways of a dreamer of dreams, aged fifty-five.
Before he met the widow of General Beaudrand, Scheffer was happy, with a sweet, sad happiness in the memories of the love of his youth—the love that was lost, and being lost still lived and filled his heart.
But the society of the widow was agreeable, her conversation vivacious. He decided that this being so it might be better still to have her by him all the time. And this was what the lady desired, for it was she who did the courting.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "Because I like an occasional pinch of salt is no reason why you should immerse me in brine," but Ary Scheffer, the mild, gentle and guileless, did not reason quite so far.
The vivacious Sophie took him captive, and he was shorn of his strength. And no doubt the ex-widow was as much disappointed as he; there really was no good reason why he should not paint better than ever, when here he wouldn't work at all! Lawks-a-daisy!
His spirit beat itself out against the bars, health declined, and although he occasionally made groggy efforts to shake himself back into form, his heart was not in his work.
Seven years went dragging by, and one morning there came word from London that the Duchess of Orleans, the mother of the beloved Marie, was dying. Scheffer was ill, but he braced himself for the effort, and hastily started away alone, leaving a note for Cornelie.
He arrived in England in time to attend the funeral of his lifelong friend, and then he himself was seized with a deadly illness.
His daughter was sent for, and when she came the sick man's longing desire was to get back to France. If he was to die, he wanted to die at home. "To die at home at last," is the prayer of every wanderer. Ary Scheffer's prayer was answered. He expired in the arms of his beloved daughter on June Fifteenth, Eighteen Hundred Fifty-eight, aged sixty-three years.