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equal, if not excelling adroitness, with his But the writing-master had soon fresh four-toed feet. One day they surprised food for admiration. In addition to the him in the act of drawing upon paper some
fine character of the boy's writing, his copymasterly capital letters. An old writing- books began all at once to be illustrated master, named Dumoncel, saw them with by a crowd of designs, remarkable for astonishment, and immediately proposed their originality and correctness of outline. to the shoemaker to take the boy under These were so abundant and striking, that his gratuitous instruction. In less than a Dumoncel, astonished, carried the producyear, the little Ducornet-we cannot say tions of his pupil to M. Watteau, professor wrote the finest hand, but—had become of design in the Academy at Lille. This the first penman in the worthy Dumoncel's second discovery had the same success as class.
the Srst. M. Watteau, in his turn, fell in
love with the prodigious aptitude of the greater advantage. The town of Lille, young Ducornet, and did not rest until he less princely in its generosity, increased had gained his admittance as a student of the artist's pension by three hundred francs design at the Lille Academy; only, by a delicate attention, the professor installed Upon this our artist sets out for Paris, him in the class of the adults, to save him ither, to complete his satisfaction, his from the rude curiosity of the boys of his friend, M. Demailly, is not slow to follow own age, who constituted the elementary him. Now begins the grand struggle for classes.
reputation. He enters the Royal AcadeAt the Academy of Lille, Cæsar Du- my of Painting, and at the same time his cornet carried off successively the highest benefactor procures him admission into the prizes in each of the courses, and finished studio of M. Lethière. Six months after by having decreed to him the great medal his entrance at the Royal Academy, in in the living-model class. This last vic- 1826, he there obtains the third medal, tory was regarded as an event in the good and on the following year the second. In town of Lille.
1828 he presents himself as one of the From this period must be dated a friend- candidates for the great prize to be awardship, which proved the greatest happiness ed at Rome. of Ducornet's life. It was now that he Here occurs a circumstance rather curibecame intimate with a man, who was des- ous to record. The examination has comtined to act as a guardian angel through menced; the artist has fully succeeded in the remainder of his career ; a man of true all his preliminary trials, but the moment nobility of mind, whose life had been one comes for competition, and now the prolong devotion to the arts and artists of his fessors, considering the diminutive figure native town, and who lavished upon Ducor- and strange conformation of Ducornet, denet, from his childhood to his death, all the clare him physically incapable of managtenderness of a parent. M. Demailly, of ing a canvas prescribed by the regulation, Lille, (the name ought not to be forgotten,) (about five feet by four,) and close the adopted the poor Ducornet, and undertook arena against him. Thereupon Ducornet the charge of his future life. He took retires, and, to vindicate himself in the him into his house, fed him, clothed him, face of their unqualifying decision, he exeencouraged him in his efforts, in his trials, cutes, upon these same regulation dimenand at the same time, being himself an sions, his first picture, “ The Parting of excellent judge and a distinguished ama- Hector and Andromache,” which may be teur, aided him by his counsels. He went seen at this moment on the walls of the further : he racked his ingenuity in the Museum at Lille. contrivance of seats, of easels, and of im- In 1829 the professors of the Royal plements for painting, adapted to the ab- Academy revoke their exclusion ; Ducornormal structure of his protégé. When net executes the proposed subject, “ Jacob we reflect that the benevolent hand which refusing to release the young Benjamin to guided the first steps of the Lille artist his Brethren." His picture, according to was reserved to close the eyes that death the opinion of the best judges, deserves at had glazed forty years afterward, are we least a second prize ; but the Academy not justified in believing that Providence cannot condescend to grace with victory prepares such loving hearts for the ex- man without arms. Therefore, M. press solace of misfortune?
Lethière, protesting against their injustice, But another earnest of success was now has the picture exhibited along with the at hand. About this time the Duke d’An- assembled prizes, during a visit of the goulême, going to visit the Museum at Duchess de Berry. The princess praises Lille, found our young artist there in the the work of the maimed painter, and the act of finishing a beautiful copy from a Minister of the Interior commands him to picture by Vandycke. Astounded at the paint “St. Louis administering Justice unsight of so strange a being executing a der an Oak,” for the Museum of his native most difficult work of art, the prince took a lively interest in his fate; he conferred At this period Ducornet quits the studio upon him a pension of twelve hundred of M. Lethière to follow his own indefrancs, and prevailed upon him to go to pendent course.
The first fruit of his Paris, there to continue his studies at emancipated labor is a picture, represent
ing the “Slave Market,” now in the keep- poverty spring from dissipation, to which ing of the Museum at Arras. During the he was a total stranger, his wants being years which followed upon the Revolution few, and his capabilities of physical enjoyof 1830, Ducornet obtained from the gov- ment still fewer. As to luxuries, his ernment a commission for painting several palace was a loft over his painting-room, of those portraits of Louis Philippe, which, and his coach and pair was his father's all precisely alike, were distributed by hun- back. For exactly half a century did the dreds to the mayories of the departments ; father serve as beast of burden to the an occupation this sufficiently wearisome to the mind of a true artist, but to which When we became acquainted with Cæpoverty must resign itself. While Du sar Ducornet, General Negrier had been cornet is thus laboring to gain a subsist- killed at the barricades of June, 1848. ence for himself and father, the state de- He had left his sword to the corps of canprives him of his pension of twelve hundred noniers, stationed at Lille. Ducornet francs ; and the town of Lille, following wished on this occasion to offer the porthe example of the state, withdraws its trait of the general to the artillery corps, three hundred, thus admonishing him that his fellow-citizens. Now the painter had misfortunes rarely come single.
never seen the deceased general. The Nevertheless, poor Ducornet does not portrait was to be a full length, and for suffer himself to be cast down by this re- sole guide the artist had a bust, tolerably verse of fortune ; on the contrary, he re well executed by the sculptor Bra, and a doubles the activity of his labors. In 1834 few lithographs, not much to be relied on. two of his works, • An Episode in the Ducornet felt the want of information as Siege of Antwerp," and " Magdalen at the to the personal demeanor and general faFeet of the Saviour,” are admitted to the cial expression of his absent model. He Exhibition at the Louvre. The latter- applied first to the commandant Lebrun, mentioned of these two pictures is eleven formerly aide-de-camp of Negrier, whose feet high and eight feet wide. We cite recollections of the deceased officer were these dimensions, because they are very of material use. Afterward he sent to significant, when we recollect the deform me with a request that I would favor him ity of the painter and the exclusion of with my personal recollections. It was 1628.
on this invitation that I went for the first We pass over a number of Ducornet's time to visit the artist phenomenon. productions of less importance, which No matter how long I may live, I shall would occupy too much space were they never forget the wonderful impression I mentioned in detail. Let us record, how- received upon entering his painting-room. ever, his successes at the several exhi- There, extended upon an easel, stood a bitions at the Louvre. In 1840, he gained huge canvas, on which the image of the a medal of the third class; in 1841, a General Negrier was beginning to medal of the second class; in 1843, a sume the semblance of life ; and across medal of the first class; and at length, in the whole extent of the canvas ran, with 1846, the great gold medal was awarded incredible agility, like a fly upon a wall, him for his picture of “Christ at the the stunted trunk of a man, surmounted Sepulcher,” a work of incontestable ex- by a noble head, with expansive brow and cellence. We must refer also, among the eye of fire ; and wherever this apparition later works of the Lille painter, to “ Saint passed along the canvas, he left the traces Philomena," painted in 1847 for the Church of color behind him. On approaching a of St. Rignier, (Somme ;) to a “Gloria in few paces nearer, we were aware of a lofty Excelsis,” painted in 1849 for the Church but slender scaffolding in front of the canof Aux-le-Château, (Pas de Calais ;) and vas, up and down and across the steps and to “ An Event in the Life of St. Martin," stages of which climbed, and crouched, painted in 1853 for the Church of Zul- and twisted—it is impossible to describe kerque, (Pas de Calais.) Add to these a how—the shapeless being we had come to multitude of portraits of all kinds, many of We saw then that he was deprived them elaborately finished, and executed at of arms; that he had no thighs; that his full length, and you will be convinced that short legs were closely united to the trunk; if Ducornet lived and died poor, it was and that his feet were wanting of a toe not for want of industry. Neither did his each. By one of his feet he held a pal
ette ; by the other a pencil ; in his mouth | he looked upon them as the world ; for litalso he carried a large brush and a second tle beyond their society did he, in his later pencil ; and in all this harness he moved, days, know anything of. Well did they and rolled, and writhed, and painted in tend him, and, in return for their extreme a manner more than marvelous ! For care of him, well did he love them. some minutes we had remained standing If the career of such a man is apt to in the middle of the room, forgetful of suggest painful reflections, it is yet pregceremony, and stupified and mute, when nant with the consoling thought that Provthere proceeded from this shapeless being idence is sometimes pleased to compensate a voice, musical, grave, and sonorous, sa- bodily defects by endowing the subject of luting us by name, and inviting us to be them with illustrious talents and nobility seated. Then the apparition, gliding down of mind. For our part, every one of the the whole length of the scaffolding to the works of the Lille painter seems to assert ground, advanced or rather rolled toward with authoritative voice one truth-that, us, and, with a bound, established itself on whatever be his personal deformities and the sofa at our side. It was thus that we defects, a man is a man who rightly uses found ourselves for the first time in the his head and his heart. company of Cæsar Ducornet, historical painter. In the course of the conversation that
A NIGHT AT SEA. followed, this singular phenomenon exhibited so much joyous humor, so much THE boy, a lad of some fifteen years, frank cordiality, as won our affection completely. Forgetting everything else, we No one knew when he left or whither he saw in him only a distinguished man, whose had gone. friendship we coveted, and, with unreflect “We must look after the lad,” cried ing instinct, we held out our hand. Du- Harcourt, springing from his bed, and cornet smiled sadly, with a look toward dressing with all haste. “He is a rash, his armless shoulders.
hot-headed fellow ; but even if it were The portrait of General Negrier, paint- nothing else, he might get his death in cd without a model, by Ducornet, adorns such a night as this.” at the present moment the hotel of the The wind dashed wildly against the artillery corps at Lille, and, what is really window-panes as he spoke, and the old astonishing, it is distinguished by its won timbers of the frame rattled fearfully. And derful resemblance. We may add, that with a promptitude that bespoke the man the cannoniers of Lille, to testify their of action, Harcourt descended the stairs gratitude to the artist, employed him to and set out. execute for their body a full-length portrait The night was pitch dark; sweeping of their commander, M. Saint Leger, a gusts of wind bore the rain along in torwork which was also perfectly successful. rents, and the thunder rolled incessantly,
It now only remains for us to relate the its clamor increased by the loud beating circumstances of the death of this interest of the waves as they broke upon the rocks. ing artist.
Upton had repeated to Harcourt that Bill Thirty years of incessant labor had not saw the boy going toward the sea-shore, provided for Ducornet even the humblest and in this direction he now followed. competence. He lived in want and priva- | His frequent excursions had familiarized tion; it was all he could do to live. One him with the place, so that even at night day last year his physical powers sud-Harcourt found no difficulty in detecting denly deserted him, his palette and pencils the path and keeping it. About half an falling from his hold.
His feet were hour's brisk walking brought him to the struck with paralysis. . . . The sense of side of the Lough, and the narrow flight his helpless condition, and the prospect of of steps cut in the rock, which descended approaching misery, came to finish the to the little boat-quay. Here he halted, work of sickness. On the 27th of April, and called out the boy's name several 1856, the historical painter of Lille died | times. The sea, however, was running in the arms of M. Demailly and his father. mountains high, and an immense drift, These two old men had long been the sweeping over the rocks, fell in sheets of whole world to poor Ducornet. In fact, ! scattered foam beyond them ; so that Har
court's voice was drowned by the uproar. alive. I'll put ten gold guineas in your A small shealing under the shelter of the hand if you can overtake him." rock formed the home of a boatman; and “I'd rather see his face than have two at the crazy door of this humble cot Har- hundred,” said the man, as, springing into court now knocked violently.
the boat, he began to haul out the tackle The man answered the summons at from under the low half-deck, and prepare once, assuring himn that he had not heard for sea. or seen any one since the night closed in; “Is your honor used to a boat, or ought adding, at the same time, that in such a I to get another man with me ?" asked the tempest a boat's crew might have landed sailor. without his knowing it.
“ Trust me, my good fellow; I have had “ To be sure,” continued he, after a more sailing than yourself, and in more pause, “I heard a chain rattlin' on the treacherous seas, too,” said Harcourt, who, rock soon after I went to bed, and I'll just throwing off his cloak, proceeded to help step down and see if the yawl is all right." the other, with an address that bespoke a
Scarcely had he left the spot, when his practiced hand. voice was heard calling out from below: The wind blew strongly off the shore, so
“She's gone! the yawl is gone! the that scarcely was the foresail spread, than lock is broke with a stone, and she's away!" | the boat began to move rapidly through
“How could this be? no boat could the water, dashing the sea over her bows, leave in such a sea,” cried Harcourt, and plunging wildly through the waves. eagerly
“Give me a hand now with the hal“She could go out fast enough, sir. yard," said the boatman ; "and when the The wind is northeast due ; but how long main-sail is set, you'll see how she'll dance she'll keep the sea is another matter." over the top of the waves, and never wet
“ Then he'll be lost!” cried Harcourt, us. wildly.
“She's too light in the water, if any" Who, sir—who is it?" asked the man. thing,” said Harcourt, as the boat bounded
“ Your master's son!” cried he, wring- buoyantly, under the increased press of ing his hands in anguish.
“ (), murther! murther!” screamed the “ Your honor's right; she'll do better boatman, “we'll never see him again. with half a ton of iron in her. Stand by, 'Tis out to say—into the wild ocean he'll sir, always, with the peak hal’yards; get be blown !"
the sail aloft in when I give you the word.” “ Is there no shelter—no spot he could “ Leave the latter to me, my man," make for ?"
said Harcourt, taking it as he spoke. “ Barrin' the islands, there's not a spot “ You'll soon see that I'm no new hand at between this and America."
the work." “But he could make the islands-you “She's doing it well,” said the man. are sure of that ?"
Keep her up! keep her up! there's a “If the boat was able to live through spit of land runs out here; in a few min
But sure I know him well; he'll utes more we'll have say-room enough." never take in a reef or sail ; but sit there, The heavier roll of the waves, and the with the helm hard up, just never carin' increased force of the wind, soon showed what 'came of him! O, musha! musha! that they had gained the open sea ; while what druv him out such a night as this ?" | the atmosphere, relieved of the dark shad
Come, it's no time for lamenting, my ows of the mountain, seemed lighter and man; get the launch ready and let us fol- | thinner than inshore. low him. Are you afraid ?"
“ We're to make for the islands, you “ Afraid !" replied the man, with a touch say, sir ?" of scorn in his voice; “ faix, it's little fear " Yes. What distance are they off?" troubles me; but may be you won't like to “ About eighteen miles. Two hours, be in her yourself when she's once out. if the wind lasts, and we can bear it.” I've none belongin' to me-father, mother, “ And could the yawl stand this ?" said chick or child; but you may have many a Harcourt, as a heavy sea struck the bow, one that's near to you."
and came in a cataract over them. My ties are, perhaps, as light as your “ Better than ourselves, if she was own," said Harcourt. “ Come, now, be
Luff! luff! th: it!" int