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Widdershins eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about Widdershins.
rather than invite comparison with stars of the second magnitude, he chose his intimates from among the peddlers of the wares that had the least possible connection with his Art.  He, too, had understood that the Compromise must be entirely accepted or totally refused; and while, in the divergence of our paths, he had done the one thing and I the other, we had each done it thoroughly, with vigour, and with persistence, and each could esteem the other, if not as a co-worker, at least as an honourable and out-and-out opposite.

III

Within a fortnight I was so deep in my task that, in the realest sense, the greater part of my life was in the past.  The significance of those extraordinary peregrinations of ours had been in the opportunity they had afforded for a communion of brain and spirit of unusual rarity; and all this determined to my work with the accumulated force of its long penning-up.  I have spoken of Andriaovsky’s contempt for such as had the conception of their work that it was something they “did” as distinct from something they “were”; and unless I succeed in making it plain that, not as a mere figure of speech and loose hyperbole, but starkly and literally, Andriaovsky was everything he did, my tale will be pointless.

There was not one of the basic facts of life—­of Faith, Honour, Truth-speaking, Falsehood, Betrayal, Sin—­that he did not turn, not to moral interpretations, as others do, but to the holy purposes of his noble and passionate Art.  For any man, Sin is only mortal when it is Sin against that which he knows to be immortally true; and the things Andriaovsky knew to be immortally true were the things that he had gone down into the depths in order to bring forth and place upon his paper or canvas.  These things are not for the perusal of many.  Unless you love the things that he loved with a fervour comparable in kind, if not in degree, with his own, you may not come near them.  “Truth, ’the highest thing a man may keep,’” he said, “cannot be brought down; a man only attains it by proving his right to it”; and I think I need not further state his views on the democratisation of Art.  Of any result from the elaborate processes of Art-education he held out no hope whatever.  “It is in a man, or it isn’t,” he ever declared; “if it is, he must bring it out for himself; if it isn’t, let him turn to something useful and have done with it.”  I need not press the point that in these things he was almost a solitary.

He made of these general despotic principles the fiercest personal applications.  I have heard his passionate outbreak of “Thief!  Liar!  Fool!” over a drawing when it has seemed to him that a man has not vouched with the safety of his immortal soul for the shapes and lines he has committed to it.  I have seen him get into such a rage with the eyes of the artist upon him.  I have heard the ice and vinegar of his words when a good man, for money, has

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