“ Sir, I do not see the necessity.”

The professed critic must have something of this austerity, else he does not suit his bench and Rhadamanthine robes. He must condemn the laughter of fools and the crackling of thorns under a pot, and the boiling of the pot thereby. He sees eternal fitness in the fable concerning Jove’s partition of the earth among kings, merchants, and other forehanded persons, when the poet, dawdling by the way to observe a cloud or think out a couplet, arrived so late that there was nothing left for him, and Jove promised him in compensation an occasional invitation to Olympus. It is in order that the artist should sup sometimes with the gods, and sometimes as a troubadour dine with a king, and for the rest he ought to be welcome to put his spoon in every man’s pot; but that he should use the gift of gods to keep his own pot meanly bubbling, the gods forbid! So the high-minded critic at least is entitled to think without being liable to the retort of Antagoras the poet to Antigonus the king. The poet was boiling a conger, and the king, coming up behind him as he was stirring his skillet, said, 44 Do you think, Antagoras, that Homer boiled congers when he wrote the deeds of Agamemnon ? ” Antagoras replied, 44 Do you think, O king, that Agamemnon, when he performed such deeds, went spying in his army to see who boiled congers ? ”

This, it must be admitted, is no more than a king deserves for pretending to be a critic. Doubtless a real critic would have been disarmed by the fact that Antagoras could not afford a cook. Poverty in a man of talent implies disinterestedness; and the critic’s contention is that the true artist may be disinterested to the point of becoming a public charge, but that he cannot keep one eye on the ideal, even though in frenzy rolling, and the other on the main chance. The artist, he insists, ought to make up his mind to poverty; for even the decent alternative of inheriting from some non-artistic money-getter has its dangers : a laureateship, for example, which may be regarded as compulsory pot-boiling, the incumbent being compelled to keep the thorns crackling even when he has no interest in the pot. The critic takes it for granted that what a hired poet writes in his official capacity must a priori be bad. He finds it as hard to imagine an artist creating to order, pouring his new wine into the old bottles of somebody else, as the Delphic priestesses receipting for a monthly salary. The divine afflatus must have freedom as the wind to blow where it lists ; it cannot be tied up in bags and loosed at suitable times to give a fair voyage, or used as a bellows for the fire of thorns. Therefore the critic’s list of the ills that the artist’s life assail includes “ toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.” And doubtless he considers the jail where Lovelace wrote a lesser evil than the patron who could take such toll of dependent genius as the dedication of Dryden’s Essay on Satire. That the artist should court the public jars on him ; and he sees the ideal in the Unknown Painter, who bids his pictures “ moulder on the damp wall’s travertine ” whence the “ world’s vain tongues,”are warded ; or in our day perhaps Degas, who keeps a somewhat similar aristocratic seclusion.

But much as he may admire the austere reserve of the representatives of art’s aristocratic side, the critic must admit that it has also a democratic side ; and thereby hangs another argument against leaving an artist real property or an income. Dr. Johnson said plumply, “ No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” The whip and spur of necessity may drive a man to his best work, and are most apt to keep him at work out of which grows mastery ; necessity, too, or his wife’s ambition, may drive a man to pot-boiling. But here come in two points of view, — the artist’s and the public’s, — both more liberal than the critic’s, as the man of action is necessarily less strict than the judge. Both the artist (except the infrequent severe and classical type) and the public recognize pot-boiling as legitimate, but again with an important difference.

The public chiefly requires of artists that they pay taxes like other people, and that they produce something to talk about. “ Those ' who live to please must please to live,’ ” says the layman indulgently, and sees nothing out of the way in a painter spending a strenuous day or two “ trying to think up a subject that will sell.” When X turns out in hot haste a second novel to catch the flood tide of his first success, and follows that up with an early failure revamped and an outpour of pigeonholed magazine articles, the intelligent public buys and reads these things, and rather admires the strong man’s virtue of fertility. But although the public is not squeamish as to abstract propositions, it is hard-headed, and it has a very good opinion of itself. It does not blame an author for bulling his own market, and esteems him the more the higher prices he asks; but it is quick to perceive when it is being written down to, and even objects to being written at. The book consumer devotes due attention to X’s first hit; buys X’s second book and reads it non-committally ; and if the third book has not some sort of momentum to carry it as high as the first, he says placidly, “ X has written himself out,” and very likely buys no more. This is unskillful pot-boiling, and does not pay. A skillful pot-boiler can turn out two books a year and hold his public ; but he must think up subjects that will sell. He must have a facile pen, a respect for convention, a gushing fountain of sentiment, an eye for the heroic. The public will gladly support him, the critic will ignore him, and the artist will scorn him heartily.

Nevertheless the artist admits that a certain sort of pot-boiling is permissible. For example, any artist in his struggling youth might do an Apollinaris label, and in his later prosperity point to it with candor as the most widely known of all his works, — provided only that the label were well done within its limitations. Again, Scott’s magnificent potboiling stands on its own merits. It does not matter that he wrote purely and simply for money; he gave all the resources of his mind, almost infinite labor. He was first of all a good workman ; and an artist who has the artisan’s virtues may do what he calls pot-boilers, and live to see them justly known as works of art. For such a man pot-boiling has no dangers. The same policy which makes him give full value in a design for a soda-water label will prevent him from floating inferior work on the tide of a legitimate success.