Landseer painted his last Academy picture, “The Baptismal Font,” whilst staying with us. It is a perfectly meaningless composition, representing a number of sheep huddled round a font, for whatever allegorical significance he originally meant to give it eluded the poor clouded brain. As he always painted from the live model, he sent down to the Home Farm for two sheep, which he wanted driven upstairs into his bedroom, to the furious indignation of the housekeeper, who declared, with a certain amount of reason, that it was impossible to keep a house well if live sheep were to be allowed in the best bedrooms. So Landseer, his easel and colours and his sheep were all transferred to the garden.
On another occasion there was some talk about a savage bull. Landseer, muttering, “Bulls! bulls! bulls!” snatched up an album of my sister’s, and finding a blank page in it, made an exquisite little drawing of a charging bull. The disordered brain repeating “Bulls! bulls! bulls!” he then drew a bulldog, a pair of bullfinches surrounded by bulrushes, and a hooked bull trout fighting furiously for freedom. That page has been cut out and framed for fifty years.
The “swells” of the “sixties”—Old Lord Claud Hamilton—My first presentation to Queen Victoria—Scandalous behaviour of a brother— Queen Victoria’s letters—Her character and strong common sense— My mother’s recollections of George III. and George IV.—Carlton House, and the Brighton Pavilion—Queen Alexandra—The Fairchild Family—Dr. Cumming and his church—A clerical Jazz—First visit to Paris—General de Flahault’s account of Napoleon’s campaign of 1812—Another curious link with the past—“Something French”— Attraction of Paris—Cinderella’s glass slipper—A glimpse of Napoleon III.—The Rue de Rivoli The Riviera in 1865—A novel Tricolor flag—Jenny Lind—The championship of the Mediterranean— My father’s boat and crew—The race—The Abercorn wins the championship.
Every one familiar with John Leech’s Pictures from Punch must have an excellent idea of the outward appearance of “swells” of the “sixties.”