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Ary Scheffer
by [?]

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.