Written Sketches 247
I saw a man painting there the other day but passed his
work without. looking at it and sat down to sketch some
hundred of yards off. In course of time he came strolling
round to see what I was doing and I, not knowing but what
he might paint much better than I, was apologetic and said
I was not a painter by profession.
" What are you ? " said he.
I said I was a writer.
" Dear me," said he. " Why that's my line—I'm a
I laughed and said I hoped he made it pay better than I
did. He said it paid very well and asked me where I lived
and in what neighbourhood my connection lay. I said I had
no connection but only wrote books.
" Oh! I see. You mean you are an author. I'm not
an author; I didn't mean that. I paint people's names
up over their shops, and that's what we call being a writer.
There isn't a touch on my work as good as any touch on
I was gratified by so much modesty and, on my way back
to dinner, called to see his work. I am afraid that he was not
far wrong—it was awful.
Omne ignotum 'pro magnifico holds with painters perhaps
more than elsewhere; we never see a man sketching, or even
carrying a paint-box, without rushing to the conclusion that
he can paint very well. There is no cheaper way of getting a
reputation than that of going about with easel, paint-box, etc.,
provided one can ensure one's work not being seen. And the
more traps one carries the cleverer people think one.
She and her husband, an old army sergeant who was all
through the Indian Mutiny, are two very remarkable people;
they keep a public-house where we often get our beer when out
for our Sunday walk. She owns to sixty-seven, I should think
she was a full seventy-five, and her husband, say, sixty-five.
She is a tall, raw-boned Gothic woman with a strong family