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The Ideal Author
by [?]

Since, then, the author is not to be regarded as a professional, he must by no means adopt the professional notebook. He is to write by inspiration; which comes as regularly to him (it is to be presumed) as indigestion to a lesser-favoured mortal. He must know things by intuition; not by experience or as the result of reading. This, at least, is what one gathers from hearing some people talk about our novelists. The hero of Smith’s new book goes to the Royal College of Science, and the public says scornfully: “Of course, he WOULD. Because Smith went to the Royal College himself, all his heroes have to go there. This isn’t art, this is photography.” In his next novel Smith sends his hero to Cambridge, and the public says indignantly, “What the deuce does SMITH know about Cambridge? Trying to pretend he is a ‘Varsity man, when everybody knows that he went to the Royal College of Science! I suppose he’s been mugging it up in a book.” Perhaps Brown’s young couple honeymoons in Switzerland. “So did Brown,” sneer his acquaintances. Or they go to Central Africa. “How ridiculous,” say his friends this time. “Why, he actually writes as though he’d been there! I suppose he’s just spent a week-end with Sir Harry Johnston.” Meredith has been blamed lately for being so secretive about his personal affairs, but he knew what he was doing. Happy is the writer who has no personal affairs; at any rate, he will avoid this sort of criticism.

Indeed, Isaiah was the ideal author. He intruded no private affairs upon the public. He took no money for his prophecies, and yet managed to live on it. He responded readily, I imagine, to any request for “something prophetic, you know,” from acquaintances or even strangers. Above all, he kept to one style, and did not worry the public, when once it had got used to him, by tentative gropings after a new method. And Isaiah, we may be sure, did NOT carry a notebook.