"Said you not, Godfrey," exclaimed Douw, after a long and fruitful gaze from his post of observation, and turning to Schalken, "that the hour he appointed was about seven by the clock of the Stadhouse?" "It had just told seven when I first saw him, sir," answered the student. "The hour is close at hand, then," said the master, consulting a horologe as large and as round as an orange.
'Mynher Vanderhausen, said Gerard Douw within himself, as the appointed hour approached, 'Mynher Vanderhausen of Rotterdam! I never heard of the man till yesterday. What can he want of me? A portrait, perhaps, to be painted; or a younger son or a poor relation to be apprenticed; or a collection to be valued; or pshaw I there's no one in Rotterdam to leave me a legacy.
This will not appear surprising, when Sandrart informs us that, on one occasion, in company with Peter de Laer, he visited Douw, and found him at work on a picture, which they could not forbear admiring for its extraordinary neatness, and on taking particular notice of a broom, and expressing their surprise that he could devote so much time in finishing so minute an object, Douw informed them that he should work on it three days more before he should think it complete.
Here the ancient and modern Dutch painters are seen at their best, and I know of no richer feast of this sort. Here Rembrandt is to be seen in his glory; here Van der Helst, Jan Steen, Gerard Douw, Teniers the younger, Hondekoeter, Weenix, Ostade, Cuyp, and other names as familiar. These men also painted what they saw, the people, the landscapes, with which they were familiar.
"Will you give the ladies an arm, Douw?" said Sir William. "We were walking to see the lilacs I planted a year ago. We old fellows, with so much to say to each other, will lead the way." Nothing occurred to me to say to the new acquaintance, who further annoyed me by clinging to my arm with a zeal unpleasantly different from Daisy's soft touch on the other side.
The fame acquired by Douw is a crowning proof that excellence is not confined to any particular style or manner, and had he attempted to arrive at distinction by a bolder and less finished pencil, it is highly probable that his fame would not have been so great. It has been truly said that there are no positive rules by which genius must be bounded to arrive at excellence.
Our first boy was born about this time a dark-skinned, brawny man-child whom it seemed the most natural thing in the world to christen Douw. He bears the name still, and on the whole, though he has forgotten all the Dutch I taught him, bears it creditably.
"Prove it to me," said the bottle-dealer, "and I double my daughter's 'dot, for if it is so, you are Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Gerard Douw!" "And Magus is a famous picture-dealer!" said the painter, who now saw the meaning of the misty and aged look imparted to his pictures in Elie's shop, and the utility of the subjects the picture-dealer had required of him.
"Minheer Vanderhausen!" said Gerard Douw within himself, as the appointed hour approached, "Minheer Vanderhausen, of Rotterdam! I never heard of the man till yesterday. What can he want of me? A portrait, perhaps, to be painted; or a poor relation to be apprenticed; or a collection to be valued; or pshaw! there's no one in Rotterdam to leave me a legacy.
If he had not, from utter weariness, cried out after a time, I should have followed the track straight, unceasing, over the four leagues and more to the Sacondaga. As it was, I had presently to stop and retrace my steps to where he sat on a wayside stump, dead beat. "Don't you wait for me, Mass' Douw, if you're bound to get there quick," he said, gasping for breath. "Don't mind me.