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Men I Have Painted/The Rev. Stephen Gladstone

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Hamilton Men I Have Painted 214f Stephen Gladstone.jpg

STEPHEN GLADSTONE


WHEN I first began to paint Mr. Gladstone, at Hawarden, Mrs. Drew would often invite me in the afternoons to visit with her the different places of interest in the neighbourhood. Her daughter, Dossie, the fair-haired child whose picture at that period was on a page of every illustrated newspaper in the kingdom, and beyond it, presented me to her pet black Pomeranian puppy, and together we would seek out her father, Canon Drew, in the midst of his books and papers, and beguile him into taking a walk in the gardens or the park.

It was natural that these walks should sometimes end at the Rectory, where the "Rector," Mr. Gladstone's familiar title in Hawarden, and Mrs. Gladstone, surrounded by their family of sturdy sons and a daughter, would welcome us to tea. The baby of the house was then about two years old. His brow was remarkable for a child, and the head resembled his grandfather's, even to the thin fringe of blond hair that hung and curled behind like the soft, gray locks of the old statesman. I could not help predicting a great career for him. He now lies, like his cousin William of Hawarden, among the brave youths who fell in the battle-fields of France.

Stephen Gladstone was more like his father than any of the members of the family. He was tall and powerfully built, with a physique capable of any amount of endurance or fatigue. Many years after this, when painting Mrs. Gladstone at Manley Hall, I heard that the Rector had walked from Bangor to Hawarden, more than sixty miles, in one day, when in his sixty-first year, as though to show that his resignation from the parish of Hawarden had no connection with any physical failure. In his youth he performed a similar feat of endurance, when, as an Oxford undergraduate, without any special training, he walked the fifty-four miles between Oxford and London in one day. Those who started with him dropped off, as the pace was four miles an hour.

The reproduction is from a hasty sketch. The Rector had promised to come to The Hermitage and sit for his portrait, but a sudden illness carried him away before the promise could be fulfilled.