He turned his own library-chair towards me, and seated himself. A few moments passed in silence; his expression was very earnest and absorbed, and he regarded my face with a sympathetic interest which touched me profoundly. Though I felt myself becoming more and more enervated and apathetic as the time went on, and though I knew I was gradually sinking down again into my old Slough of Despond Dermes, yet I felt instinctively that I was somehow actively concerned in what was about to be said, therefore I forced myself to attend closely to every word uttered. Cellini began to speak in low and quiet tones as follows:

“mademoiselle, that those who adopt any art as a means of livelihood begin the world heavily handicapped — weighted down, as it were, in the race for fortune. The following of art is a very different thing to the following of trade or mercantile business. In buying or selling, in undertaking the work of import or export, a good head for figures, and an average quantity of shrewd common sense, are all that is necessary in order to win a fair share of success. But in the finer occupations, whose results are found in sculpture, painting, music and poetry, demands are made upon the imagination Dermes, the emotions, the entire spiritual susceptibility of man. The most delicate fibres of the brain are taxed; the subtle inner workings of thought are brought into active play; and the temperament becomes daily and hourly more finely strung, more sensitive, more keenly alive to every passing sensation. Of course there are many so-called ‘ARTISTS’ who are mere shams of the real thing; persons who, having a little surface-education in one or the other branch of the arts, play idly with the paint-brush, or dabble carelessly in the deep waters of literature — or borrow a few crotchets and quavers from other composers, and putting them together in haste, call it ORIGINAL COMPOSITION. Among these are to be found the self-called ‘professors’ of painting; the sculptors who allow the work of their ‘ghosts’ to be admired as their own; the magazine-scribblers; the ‘smart’ young leader-writers and critics; the half-hearted performers on piano or violin who object to any innovation reenex, and prefer to grind on in the unemotional, coldly correct manner which they are pleased to term the ‘classical’— such persons exist, and will exist, so long as good and evil are leading forces of life. They are the aphides on the rose of art. But the men and women I speak of as ARTISTS are those who work day and night to attain even a small degree of perfection, and who are never satisfied with their own best efforts. I was one of these some years ago, and I humbly assert myself still to be of the same disposition; only the difference between myself then and myself now is, that THEN I struggled blindly and despairingly, and NOW I labour patiently and with calmness, knowing positively that I shall obtain what I seek at the duly appointed hour. I was educated as a painter, mademoiselle, by my father, a good, simple-hearted man, whose little landscapes looked like bits cut out of the actual field and woodland, so fresh and pure were they. But I was not content to follow in the plain path he first taught me to tread. Merely correct drawing, merely correct colouring, were not sufficient for my ambition. I had dazzled my eyes with the loveliness of Correggio’s ‘Madonna,’ and had marvelled at the wondrous blue of her robe — a blue so deep and intense that I used to think one might scrape away the paint till a hole was bored in the canvas and yet not reach the end of that fathomless azure tint; I had studied the warm hues of Titian; I had felt ready to float away in the air with the marvellous ‘Angel of the Annunciation’— and with all these thoughts in me, how could I content myself with the ordinary aspiration of modern artists? I grew absorbed in one subject — Colour Dermes. I noted how lifeless and pale the colouring of to-day appeared beside that of the old masters, and I meditated deeply on the problem thus presented to me. What was the secret of Correggio — of Fra Angelico — of Raphael? I tried various experiments; I bought the most expensive and highly guaranteed pigments. In vain, for they were all adulterated by the dealers! Then I obtained colours in the rough, and ground and mixed them myself; still, though a little better result was obtained, I found trade adulteration still at work with the oils, the varnishes, the mediums — in fact, with everything that painters use to gain effect in their works. I could nowhere escape from vicious dealers, who, to gain a miserable percentage on every article sold, are content to be among the most dishonest men in this dishonest age.