Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

on Painting                    145

Amateurs and Professionals

There is no excuse for amateur work being bad. Amateurs
often excuse their shortcomings on the ground that they are
not professionals, the professional could plead with greater
justice" that he is not an amateur. The professional has not,
he might well say, the leisure and freedom from money
anxieties which will let him devote himself to his art in single-
ness of heart, telling of things as he sees them without fear
of what man shall say unto him ; he must think not of what
appears to him right and loveable but of what his patrons
will think and of what the'critics will tell his patrons to say
they think ; he has got to square everyone all round and will
assuredly fail to make his way unless he does this ; if, then,
, he betrays his trust he does so under temptation. Whereas
the amateur who works with no higher aim than that of
immediate recognition betrays it from the vanity and wanton-
ness of his spirit. The one is naughty because he is needy,
the other from natural depravity. Besides, the amateur
can keep his work to himself, whereas the professional man
must exhibit or starve.

The question is what is the amateur an amateur of ? What
is he really in love with ? Is he in love with other people,
thinking he sees something which he would like to show
them, which he feels sure they would enjoy if they could only
see it as he does, which he is therefore trying as best he can
to put before the few nice people whom he knows ? If this
is his position he can do no wrong, the spirit in which he
works will ensure that his defects will be only as bad spelling
or bad grammar in some pretty saying of a child. If, on the
other hand, he is playing for social success and to get a
reputation for being clever, then no matter how dexterous
his work may be, it is but another mode of the speaking
with the tongues of men and angels without charity ; it is as
sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, full of sound and fury
signifying nothing.

The Ansidei Raffaelle

This picture is inspired by no deeper feeling than a de-
termination to adhere to the conventions of the time. These